The Life Of an Indigenous Community- Stolen

Indigenous community

A dive into Sami’s heritage

Depicted in the new Netflix movie “Stolen” directed by Elle Márjá Eira, The Sámi people are the Indigenous people of the northern region of the Scandinavian Peninsula, and they live in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia. It is estimated that there are around 50,000 to 100,000 Sámi people presently.

The Sámi are known for Reindeer herding which is a major part of their culture. The movie also revolves around the same very culture and the difficulties that come their way to preserve and continue the teachings.

The movie, based on the book written by Ann-Helén Laestadius, born half-Sámi and half-Tornedalian, which is another ethnic minority, touches on various topics such as racism, mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, suicide which unfortunately is something the Sámi people are very much used to, sexism that still exists in the community, global warming, which is a danger to the people and animals living in cold regions.

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Following the tale of a young, courageous woman of the Sámi community, the movie shines a light on the discrimination that the people indigenous to the land must face at the hands of the settlers. Anything that the community does is seen as a nuisance to the new people on the land.

In the early 19th century, The Norwegian and Swedish governments began to assert sovereignty more forcefully in the northern regions, implementing policies aimed at Scandinavianizing and converting the Sámi people. The governments and churches of both nations have now posted a formal apology to the people of the community for the forceful conversions and proposed a reconciliation plan.

Today, in Sweden and Norway, it is a legally protected right exclusively for the Sámi people to make a livelihood out of reindeer herding. But this victory wasn’t easy for the people of the community. After decades of constant racism, discrimination, and abuse by the now-dominant cultures in the countries, they have now achieved their basic right to live and work in compliance with their heritage.

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