By Valorie Arrowsmith
Minneapolis, MN—Magne Ove Varsi, director of the Gáldu Resource Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Kautokeino, Norway, was the featured presenter at a University of Minnesota event in February. His speech, sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, American Indian Studies and the Human Rights Center at the U of M, focused on the rights of the Sami.
Varsi's presentation featured an overview of Sami history beginning with the first mention by Tacitus in historical documents from 98 AD. Varsi addressed challenges currently faced by Sami peoples in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. In Norway, they are involved in government throughout the country and have their own parliament, resulting in a more developed structure and system for seeking and supporting Sami rights than the groups in the other countries. In Russia, Samis are beginning to make contacts with groups in the other northern countries after periods of time when their villages were destroyed so they could not return to them.
Varsi said the goal for the Sami people is to “be Sami without being more or less than other people in the world.”
For more information about this work visit where there are many short video clips about Sami life.