Vom umstrittenen Prinzip zum vieldeutigen Recht?
Edited By Peter Hilpold
The Right to Self-determination of the Saami: the ideal faces the reality
Timo Koivurova, Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law, Arctic Centre/University of Lapland The Saami are an indigenous people living in the northern parts of three Nordic states – Norway, Sweden and Finland – and on the Kola Peninsula in the Russian Federation. They arrived in the region well before the present majority populations of those states and are ethni- cally and linguistically distinct as a people from the mainstream socie- ties. At present, there are approximately 90,000 Saami living in the northernmost regions of the North Calotte and the Kola Peninsula. Of these, the Norwegian Saami constitute the largest group, numbering approximately 50,000-65,000 persons, followed by the Saami in Swe- den (20,000), Finland (8000) and Russia (2000).1 The Saami are now a minority in most parts of their traditional areas. During the course of the twentieth century in particular, the Saami, like many indigenous peoples, were subjected to assimilationist practic- es – a development that was not reversed in some parts of the Nordic states until the 1970s.2 Especially important in the change of policy was the rise of both the Saami movement and indigenous peoples’ movement in general, which further strengthened Saami claims to regain their lands and waters. Yet, only very gradually from the 1970s onwards did the Nordic states begin to recognise the Saami as an indi- genous people with an identity distinct from that of the mainstream population and the right to preserve their own language, culture and way of life. Playing an...
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