Wednesday, 15 May 2013 15:36

Indigenous statements in Kiruna

Indigenous statements in Kiruna ips

In his statement at yesterday's Arctic Council Kiruna Ministerial meeting, the representative and earlier 1st Vice-President of the Russian Association of Indigeous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) spoke on behalf of 40 indigenous peoples in Russia.

Among other things, he pleaded for the establishment of joint international regime under the auspices of the Arctic Council for managing the exploitation of the natural resources of the circumpolar region in ways that maintain the ecological balance and respect the the right of indigenous peoples to traditional nature use, preservation of identity and way of life.

On behalf of RAIPON, he further said, he welcomed the Arctic Council's new observer states. Yet, at the same time, he regretted that the Permanent Participants had not had more of a say in the decision on the matter. ”We call upon Ministers and the Arctic Council,” he said, ”to fully take into account the opinions of the Permanent members in this matter and we also call upon the observers to seriously and consistently work with indigenous peoples and to respect their rights.”


President of the Sámi Parliament in Norway Egil Olli, in his address likewise emphasized the rights of indigenous peoples as an imperative prerequisite for involving them in decisionmaking affecting their own future:

”[T]he management of resources must include protection of the basis for Indigenous industries, culture and language. In that connection, there may be grounds for the Arctic Council to consider devoting more attention to the Indigenous peoples’ cultural heritage, sacred sites and cultural landscapes.”


Chief Michael Stickman of the Arctic Athabaskan Council spoke about the Observer issue, emphasizing the necessity of involve non-Arctic states the work of the Arctic Council since non-Arctic interests are heavily impacting the Arctic through trans-boundary pollution, shipping, resource extraction, etc.


International Chair of ICC Aqqaluk Lynge, stated he regretted the absence of Greenland at the Minsterial, yet, at the same time, he said, he fully understood why the Greenland Government had decided to not participate in Kiruna (i.e. because of having been denied a place at the negotiating table during the Swedish Chairmanship).


Àile Javo, head of the Saami Council’s delegation to the Ministerial, said in her address that corporate responsibility of industrial entrepreneurs coming into Sapmi and opening up large-scale operations in many cases amounted to no responsibility. For the same reason, she said, the colonisation of Sapmi is not a thing of the past but continues to this day.


Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat
Fram Centre, Postboks 6606 Langnes, NO-9296 Tromsø, Norway