“Why Norway’s reindeer herders are calling for peace in Gaza: The pain that our bodies feel” | Defending Indigenous Rights

The Fosen Peninsula in Norway is a stunning sight, with herds of reindeer running through the thick, white snow sounding like thunder. Maja Kristine Jama, a reindeer herder from a long line of herders, is intimately familiar with this spectacle that has been playing out for thousands of years. Raised outdoors beside the migrating reindeer, Jama, like most Sami reindeer herders, knows the terrain like the back of her hand, without needing a map.

Reindeer husbandry in Norway is a sustainable practice deeply rooted in Sami culture, which views the reindeer as integral to the Arctic ecosystem and a symbol of the region. However, the Sami people face threats to their existence from borders, land seizures, and discrimination.

In solidarity with other Indigenous people facing similar challenges, such as the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the Sami have become vocal advocates for their cause. Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen, a Sami activist and artist, believes in standing up for those being displaced from their homes.

The history of the Sami people stretches back more than 9,000 years, but they have faced numerous challenges, including forced assimilation policies aimed at erasing their cultural identity. Modern threats such as climate change, land seizures for natural resource extraction, and the destruction of traditional reindeer pastures further jeopardize their way of life.

The construction of the Fosen wind farm, the largest wind farm in Europe, on Sami land without their consent embodies the concept of “greenwashing colonialism,” where environmentally friendly projects benefit global communities at the expense of Indigenous peoples. Despite legal challenges, the wind farm remains operational, disrupting traditional Sami livelihoods.

Young Sami activists are driving a resurgence in Sami resistance, reclaiming their culture and heritage that was once shamed and suppressed. Social media platforms play a crucial role in educating others about the challenges faced by the Sami and other Indigenous peoples, fostering connections and solidarity in the fight against colonialism.

In a world where Indigenous peoples continue to face marginalization and land struggles, the Sami’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing fight for Indigenous rights and self-determination.

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