Joint seminar for Sami and Ainu research

18.11.2011 10:35
The Arctic Centre of University of Lapland organizes an Ainu-Sami seminar which discusses indigenous peoples’ cultural, political and juridical issues. The seminar is held on Tuesday 22nd November from 9 am to 3 pm at the Aurora Hall at the Arktikum house in Rovaniemi.

Senior researcher Elina Helander-Renvall says that the seminar is important opportunity to gain knowledge of the current cultural and juridical position of indigenous peoples.

Professor Hiroshi Maruyama from Muroran Institute of Technology, Hokkaido, presents a new book “Restoration of the Ainu as an Indigenous People – Building the Japanese Society in Solidarity with the Ainu” (2011). It is the first equal partnership study between the Ainu and Japanese researchers. The book includes dialogical article from Dr. Helander-Renvall and Professor, Ainu activist Koichi Kaizawa. In the article they discuss the status of Ainu and Sami traditional knowledge and rights in relation to biological diversity. They emphasize the role of young generations as maintaining the traditions.

"In Finland 70 per cent of the Sami children under 18 years live outside of traditional Sami areas. And this means that they are in danger of losing their traditions as they are becoming disembedded from contacts with traditional lands, traditional occupations and knowledge-holders", reminds Ms. Helander-Renvall.

Ainu people live in Hokkaido and northern parts of Honshu in Japan. They have long suffered for assimilation but in 2008 the parliament of Japan recognized the status of Ainu as indigenous people. Ainu language and cultural traditions are endangered, and they continue struggling for their rights. In the seminar Professor Hiroshi Maruyama and Professor Takashi Matsuna tell more about Ainu people.

The ”Alta-Case” is a story about the damming of the Alta-Kautokeino River in Finnmark, Norway, for hydro-electric power regulation and the protests and its wider implications. Dr. Jan-Åge Riseth will give an overview over the course of actions, and focus on the long term effects for the Sami.

Researcher Leena Heinämäki describes the change towards equal partnership between states and indigenous peoples, and asks what others could learn from Arctic experiences. Ms. Heinämäki is a researcher in the Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law at the Arctic Centre.

The seminar is organized by the Arctic Indigenous Peoples and Sami Research Office together with Arktis doctoral programme.


For more information, please contact:
Senior researcher Elina Helander-Renvall, +358 400 138 878, elina.helander-renvall(at)