Our Rights To Earth And Freedom : Sofia Jannok at TEDxGateway

Translator: Annika Bidner
Reviewer: Denise RQ (Singing a yoik) (Applause) Thank you. That song “You can hear the wind”
was a wind song. My people is the indigenous people
of Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Russia: Sami people. But wherever I go, all over the world, the wind and the sun
will always follow my path, as we are also called
“the people of wind and the sun”. And we live here:
that is Sápmi, Sami land. My name is Sofia Jannok,
and I am from that land. And I just arrived this morning to Mumbai. Quite a contrast. The nice guy who picked us up said,
“You know what, this is winter in Mumbai.” I’m like, “Hey, you don’t know
anything about winter. That, my friend, is winter.
Minus 36 degrees.” Have you seen the movie Avatar? You know that big Hollywood production with spectacular 3D effects
and blue people, signed James Cameron? However, I saw it last year and it hit me
like an arrow towards my chest. For those of you who haven’t seen it,
I can explain the plot. It’s about the human race, in a future
where they have destroyed Mother Earth, emptied Her of all resources, and now started to find
other planets to invade. A big mining company
finds valuable resources on a [paradisaical] planet full of life,
so now they want to invade it. The problem is that on this planet,
there are already other inhabitants. Blue-skinned people are living there in perfect harmony
with animals and nature. But the company shows no mercy. The natives have to be
moved or destroyed. When I saw this movie, I cried throughout the whole story
because it was so familiar. To me, it was like a painful documentary
of present life, my life. This is how it is for my people, if not to say for all indigenous people
all over the world. Some big companies,
driven by people whose goal is money, invade our home, force us to move,
or simply get rid of us. Whether you eliminate people
by actually killing them, or by killing the conditions
for a life in freedom, it pretty much makes the same harm. You can’t live if you don’t have
enough oxygen to breathe. The difference
between the movie and reality is that the movie has a happy ending. For those of you who haven’t seen it,
and don’t want to hear the end, I will now tell it,
so you can just close your eyes. The movie ends with the mining
company being forced back, the planet remaining unexploited, and the natives keeping on living
on their motherland, happily ever after. Like all the Hollywood productions end,
with a love story, of course. But, in reality, we are far from that. We have the same scenario in my land. The colonization started 400 years ago, [but what’s worse
is that it has not ended yet]. Out on the tundra, you need
to play by the rules of nature. Weather, wind, terrain, and daylight, all make a difference
in how to make your movements, when to wait for snowstorms to pass, and when to keep on going
before the dark hits. The Sami traditional way of living relies on the livelihood of reindeer husbandry
and on the respect of nature. Reindeer are free animals. They wander over great areas. They know the way to go because they have always been
wandering the same path. And we, we follow them.
We go where reindeer go. Our population is about 100,000 people. It could be more. It feels like we are more,
but scientists have trouble counting us. Maybe because we are a nomadic people,
and nomadic people don’t sit still, so it can be hard counting people
that don’t sit still. Scientists also call us moribund. I’ve been told that I [make] music in one of the smallest
languages in the world. One day, it will be so small
that it disappears. But I laugh at these reports. Moribund? Come on.
To me, we are very alive. And I’d like to keep it that way. The problem is, in a democracy,
the majority decides. Minorities have very little [to say]. This is my grandfather. He taught my mother,
and my mother and father taught me that we borrow our home from Earth. We can’t own it, we don’t possess it. Since we all only borrow it
for the short time we’ll be staying here, we have to leave it the way it was
when we first arrived. Because when we go,
our children will need a home, and their children yet to come
will need a home. Every decision we make, we have to think
of the consequences of it, not only in the nearest decade but at least four generations ahead,
at least 200 years [in advance]. As we all know, this way of thinking
is not the only way. It seems that Sami land — where my people
have been living, like forever, is a very rich area. People of government started to come, they put up flags, they drew borders
right across our land, they cut down hectares of woods. They drowned our home with water. They dug big wounds in the mountains. They forced us to move,
to make room for others. They showed no respect, neither to nature
nor to the people living there. The funny thing is, although they stole the mountains
they forgot to change the name of them, so each mountain is still
carrying their name in our language. Even the mines do. The rivers are still singing in Sami. So, we have not given up.
Nor has the land. Just before coming here to Mumbai,
a friend told me, with tears in his eyes, that he was devastated. He said, now they are coming. A mining company has got permission
from the Swedish government to destroy the winter pastures
of my friend’s reindeer society. They will dig for copper,
and they’ll start this February. The planned mine will cut
the reindeer’s natural path and destroy a huge area of untouched land. This can mean the end
for this reindeer society, and more. And these are the consequences
of one single mine. There are five more in the same area,
and 20 more are waiting for prospecting. Above the mine,
there’s always another industry. The human race consumes more
than what Earth can produce. And due to that, the climate
changes remarkably. In the Arctic area, where I come from,
you can clearly see the changes. Usually, we have a lot
of snow this time of year. Now, there’s hardly any. Glaciers are melting,
rainy winters causes icy ground, which means no food for animals. You’ve heard how badly
ice bears are drowning, listen also when I say
that reindeer are starving. I’ve seen them die, myself. The poor winters are coming
more and more often. Sweden, where I live, is known
as the most modern land in the world, with a heart of democracy and equality. Why on earth is it that the issue of the indigenous people’s
rights in the same land has been under investigation
for the last 20 years or more? If we really are moribund, when will the government
start respecting us? When we are already gone? I don’t want my children
to read about me in a museum. I think it’s moving way to slowly. I’d like to see a change
before I leave this earth, and I’m not the only one. We might be few,
but we are young and proud, and together with other indigenous people
around the world, we are many. So, what we need is for people
to know about our existence. So I decided to try making a difference. I started a foundation, which carries the name
of my home tundra, Arvas. Arvas Foundation is to work to increase the knowledge about us,
to work on the indigenous people’s rights, and on the respect for Mother Earth
no matter where we come from. I dream of a world where Earth
is as beautiful as nature can be. I dream of a world where Sami people, and all of our sisters and brothers
all around the world are free and independent. I dream of a happy ending
like the one in the movie Avatar. (Singing a Sami yoik) [arvasfoundation.com] (Sami) Thanks.
(English) Thank you. (Applause)

84 thoughts on “Our Rights To Earth And Freedom : Sofia Jannok at TEDxGateway

  • I respect this woman so much! and I love her people's culture. (this is the first time I heard her speak English) I love what she stands for, and her love of keeping the sami culture alive through music! Jag respekterar denna kvinna så mycket! och jag älskar hennes folks kultur. (detta är första gången jag hörde henne tala engelska) Jag älskar vad hon står för, och hennes kärlek till att hålla den samiska kulturen vid liv genom musik!

  • ~~Yes, I have a FB Timeline and my new FB page is called; { School of Our Uneventful Lives }~~ I have shared and hope to meet you in this Virtual World~Blessings from my Heart to Your hearts and All Those close to your Hearts ~ Sofia's voice is that of An Angel~ in GAU, PLU with Joy and Compassion~~and thank you, Folks at TED x Talks

  • Let's kill the myth of Sweden being such a wonderful "democratic" country once and for all. Sweden is corrupt and hypocritical. It doesn't stand up for childrens' rights, against war, it doesn't give a crap about indigenous culture, none of that. That is all surface and all bs. And as long as we keep that myth alive, people and most of all children, suffer.

  • I really do feel for the Sami people that all the hardships and injustices they have had to suffer. But his makes me pissed off!! First of all it is the Sami people that is the strongest voice to kill all wolfs and other predators that might threat their reindeer with out mercy- not much in harmony with nature there. Also Reindeer-Sami themselves discriminates Woodland- and Fish-Sami (they do not even have vote in the "Ting") because they do not have reindeer – throwing rock in a glass house.

  • Whit that I do't not say that what the mining company do or the status of the Sami people in Sweden is right – by no means. I just say that if you start to point fingers and describe your self as a victim you should have your own backyard clean. And people should know that Sami people is much much more then reindeer owners (but they aren't recognized by the reindeer owners).

  • Just tell the name of one nomad folk that likes predatros. The predator issue is one of the biggest Swedish (and Finnish) hypocrisies. The Sámi see thousands of reindeer suffering painful death due to predation. Outside the area of reindeer husbandry, there would be much land and wild moose and roe deer for predators but folks make a big fuss about a few dogs killed by predators and panick for children though no kids are known to have been killed by predators in Sweden; cars are the real threat.

  • reindeer herding became a necessity only 3-4 hundred years a go for the sami originally they were hunters and fisherman. any change always creates further change in ecosystems and human ecology.

  • Along with Mari Boine, Sofia is the voice of the North. What a wonderful presentation. For more of this fantastic music, search "Yoiking"…

  • Being of these people's ancestors of Norway, I have to agree. For I too am Sami 50% and have too also agree with Jannok and her message. Money Junkies are destroying our world.

  • AVATAR – a movie which demonstrates the evil of the US military and the beauty of living in nature and the superiority of primitive life. Ironically, it played at the very time that the US military was rescuing Haiti from an earthquake. Romanticized rubbish.

  • I Agree with her, money junkies are destroying the world! I want to go home one day to Norway my Sami roots! help us stop the money grabber! Evil as they are! Avatar is these Money Junkies!

  • Why is it that it seems that only the indigenous groups seem to have an environmental conscience? Are the rest of us really that stupid as to do so much harm to the earth?

  • Many of the reindeer herding Sami are complaingng about assimilation, but we, the coastal sami have already been assimilated, our culture is in a much worse conditiion than the innlandsami culture. They do not have a clue about what assimilation means, because no matter how much they think they have been assimilated, it have been 10 times worse for us at the coats who didn't herd reindeers. The sami at the coast used to be the majority of all the sami, but not anymore.

  • are you saying she shouldnt complain ? or are you jealous that she got a chance to be heard ? why would you divide your people between coastal and inland, considering what you desperately need is to stand in unity ? sounds to me like you are the one passively complaining when she s trying to raise awareness. Give up the coast thing and join the cause, and if you cant, at least keep the nonconstructive blabbering to yourself. this is not a pity contest.

  • I am just saying that the innland sami are ignoring the coastal sami and the coastal sami aren't heard and not represented in the parliament enough. I really want an united Sapmi, but this requires that everyone in Sapmi are cared about, not only the people with reindeers. How do you think it would feel if your own people does not care about you and your local traditions, because the reindeer herders does not represent every sami.

  • Great speech I wish there were more people like you Sofia, you represent a very small group of indigenous people which are disappearing more and more due to huge corporation greed and money hunger our world is heading into serious trouble and I hope that our human race will wake up before it is too late there are sources for alternative energy but huge oil companies will not give their billions of dollars of profit up.
    I wish you all the best in your journey to inform human race of all this.

  • support indigenous struggle and resistance in all parts of the world! we must all stand together against industry and colonialism.

  • What are you talking about? Almost half of the Saami Parliament in Norway consists of coastal saamis. Also there's a huge problem with mining companies throwing their waste in the fjords where the coastal saamis fish.

  • Yeah "almost" half, but that does not change anything. Nothing have happened, the Sami education at the coast is still bad and there is still almost no recognition of the coastal sami in many of the municipalities. There is like two municipalities that call them selves coastal sami, and thats not the one I live in.

  • the area of mining claims in Finland is 50 000 km2, as big as area of Denmark. Most of them are in Northern Finland and in Lapland. We call our land "Congo of The Arctic Circle",mining companies maybe call it "Promised Land" because of our biased legislation that favors mining companies and minimizes rights of the local people. The situation is also equally bad in Sweden and Norway .People in power say modern mining is always for overall good of society and uses clean technology..that's PR BS

  • rakt in i hjartat!
    detta galler inte bara samerna,det galler alla.
    Naturen ar en diktatur och om vi inte lyder snart sa ar det for sent. Vi lever max 100 ar,de ar o ta i, o aven om sa ar det inte nog lange for att de ska va vart o forstora allt for 100 ar av vadan roligt man far ut av det.

  • A very good statement! Hope it finds many open ears, as those that seem to be first happy when they have destroyed everything for a fast profit are unfortunately many. These people will not believe that one can not eat money until there is nothing else left but money.

  • A beautiful speach. Today, The Sami National Day, february 6 2014, unfortunately things have not changed, international mining companies are still a threat to the Sami population in Sweden.

  • she may be right, but this speech seems a bit too one-sided black&white. i don't think you can expect the people from the 'other side' to listen to this

  • This is my initial opinion, modern western people have influenced the way Sami think of themselves. They do the same with native Americans and many other people. Go back in time about 1,000 years or maybe over 2,000 years ago to an ancient and traditional Sami person, I doubt they were nature loving hippies.

  • You sapme are no more or no less. It is true that your culture needs protection, what to do about ours?

  • Maita'i Kela Na Mana'o Oukou (great is your wisdom) Sofia!, As a Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) who recently studied about the Sami culture, I realize our struggles are extremely similar, culture, as well as Land- and our rights as a Native people. not only us, but other Indigenous cultures throughout the world. We're all in this together. I wish nothing but the best for our Sami Cousins, may your culture and language thrive. Kulia I Ka pono (strive for righteousness). 

  • Sofia, Thank you for sharing.  That was great.
    I'm a mixed-blood in the US, with Two Native Nation, Seven European nations and my fathers YDNA traces back to the Saami people.  Called to learn about my roots.
    And I'm technical person also, I write software and design circuit boards.
    I'm also involved with the local Inter-Tribal Learning Circle that meets on the sacred grounds at Fort Ancient in Ohio.

    I have noticed in the US, all the reservations and other places where our Native American people have been corralled to, every place they go that under their feet is oil, gold, uranium, copper, all kinds of precious metals and above the ground many plants that won't find elsewhere.  It is said that even in the midst of evil, the creator works out all things for the good.  (Thinking about the story of Yoseph).   And this is true, for the indigenous peoples are placed as guardians and caretakers to fend off evil greedy people who would expend everything that is around leaving countless future generations with nothing.  They are there for a reason.  Same goes for the Saami people, they are watchmen.

    To be practical in a modern world, I could not be typing this message without some silicon or other precious metals being used but those who are on the Internet and use this modern technology are only a small part of those on this planet.   If you recklessly use up all that which is available, you'll go up in one big puff of smoke and what are you going to do in seven generations from now???  
    Seven generations is what we as a people are required to think about both present and past.   Seven generations is not that many years, close to the age of this United States that I live in. 
    It is not just the resources either, look what has happened to the core family in just a few generations, it is not a good path the much of the world is on.

  • "Avatar", just like anything, is interpreted in as many ways as there are people. But, she interprets it the same way I do, it seems: civilization trashes its own landbase and then has to move on and invade and trash other peoples' landbases in order to keep their own ecocidal, genocidal, or more precisely, omnicidal "lifestyle". Nice…

  • Beautiful and moving songs here.  What are the names?  I'd like to download them, if available.  Thanks!

  • Now that I'm really starting to think about this whole situation, it really saddens me. Is there really any way for us to save our planet, and to survive in harmony with nature? Honestly, I'm starting to doubt it. There must be something we can do, though. Even if it seems impossible, there must be something.

    Thank you, Miss Jannok, for your inspiring words, and allowing me to consider these things.

  • I did not know this. Thank you. In Australia gas miners are drilling into underground water. This poisons the water. Our people can not stop them, we protest, but the government does not listen. Corruption.

  • The reference to Avatar is interesting, the language the blue people speak is a mixture of indigenous languages including mine and the spiral markings also are references to mine and like your people the oil companies are in our lands, destroying the earth. Kia kaha, (stand strong) brothers and sisters. Our world might still live.

  • But Sami people are white or not? I think they are white, not indo-european but still a white ethnicity! The more I look, the more convinced I am they aren't mongolians or half-mongolians! They are white people just a little odd, but not so much incompatible with other of us!

  • "I don't want my children to read about me in a museum" – that sentence really hits home. I'm Irish and we have almost completely lost our connection to our ancestors

  • The ancestors of the Sami used to follow the reindeer across the land bridge that existed connecting the UK with Scandinavia when it was all one big forest (The boreal forest) and lived for part of the year in the UK. Some of the first signs of human habitation in the UK will of been Sami. This people belong to the land they must remain listening to the heartbeat of the reindeer doe at the centre of the earth.

  • It always makes me very sad when indigenous peoples are ignored and
    exploited by money driven psychopaths who care nothing about the land.
    I've always felt an affinity with the Saami. They are the indigenous
    people of Europe. My surname is Scandinavian as are most of the other
    names in my family. Maybe the Saami are my ancestors too. I'd like to go
    there someday and live with them and learn their traditional skills and

  • This was such a good watch. I never really heard or knew about Sami people but now I do. I think it's really upsetting that groups of people are being ignored, unrecognised and left to disappear. Most modern people who have adapted to technology believe traditions are primitive and 'uneducated', but I think that is actually very ironic, since our modern language, culture and blood all root from these cultures and our ancestors. We should be thankful and respectful towards these traditions and the people who decided to continue it. It is because of tradition that we were able to thrive and learn wisdom.

  • My Father was from Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. He was Saami. He passed away at 57, and I was 6. I learned a little of my/his heritage, and I learned some from what my Mother knew. I wrote to Sweden in the 90s, and learned a lot from the census. The internet has given me so much knowledge, and I have found my cousins in Sweden. I love this culture and way of life, I just wish I could visit.

  • We need to protect small nations. Just have a look what happened with native Americans and no one cares! No one! This nations closer to earth and mother nature, if we lost them we lost whole earth!

  • Yet the racists are here too. We are one. This is our only planet and we are destroying the wisdom of the indigenous and the very diversity of life we depend upon. These fools choose to identify as white (what even is that?), instead of as humans, with the sacred duty of sacrificing short term greed for the diversity and strength of living things. Obviously, they are ignorant, but we are so damaged that we need those that shed light and inclusion, not this petty division that lets the wicked rule us and break us down into factions. We are one. This is our only home.

  • Thank you for your beatyful songs and your words. There have allways been both darkness and light in the world, but you bring out light, and it give hope, that things will start to change. People start to see, that we can not continue to use so much of the earths resources. As i now have started to see, there is only one way to change the world to the better : Every one has to start with them self, start to change the way they live. When we start to do that, our children will learn from us , and slowly we change things to the better ! Today is the first day of the rest of our life, if you want changes, start today 🙂

  • I am from Finland and the Sami people are considered to be the natives of Finland (the language has similarities with Finnish language, not so much with Scandinavian languages). I watched a movie called Sameblod (the Sami blood). It touched me how badly were the Sami people treated by the Swedes, they were considered as circus animals or something like this. I am not a Sami but it did felt bad to see this. Sure, the natural resources will be robbed, there is very little we can do for it, perhaps owning the land legally and doing something which respects the nature as a means of livelihood.

  • All of you are hypocrites. The earth is mother to us all. A charismatic display doesn’t define one group over another. All of us have exploited the Earth in one way or another. We are all living today because of the exploitation of the earth. The acceptance of technology is the main difference between one group surviving and one not. Facts of life.


  • What a great Performance, Sofia Jannok! You really done a very good job, also your joik is beautiful!Please get in contact with KEIINO, especially with Fred Buljo – hoppefully you can sing and work together for your rights to earth and freedom in sapmi as a indiginous sami Person. Just try it!

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