Amidst all the recent media coverage in Norway over the opening of Parliament, the change in government in Oslo and its roster of new ministers, another parliament was opening in the far northern part of the country. The Sametinget (Sami Parliament) is back in session, too, after a royal opening of its own.
Both King Harald V and Crown Prince Haakon attended the opening, in full dress uniform, while may members of Sametinget added more colour with their traditional dress. King Harald stressed the Sami Parliament’s role in Norway society, as “an important contributor to the forming of our shared society.”
The monarch noted in his address to the parliament how Sametinget, located in Karasjok, also has given Sami culture, language and community life a “stronger and more secure position.”
News bureau NTB reported that the national Sami association (Norske Samers Riksforbund, NSR) proposed Aili Keskitalo of Kautokeino as president of a minority government comprised of the NSR and the Samefolkets Parti (SáB). A total of 39 newly elected representatives were present for the opening ceremonies at Norway’s second parliament.
The Sami Parliament first opened in 1989, with then-King Olav declaring that Norway was built on the land of two peoples, the Norwegians and the Sami. The parliament works with issues within the areas of language, culture, education, business, environment, territory and rights to natural resources.
Two representatives from the Progress Party, which now is part of Norway’s new conservative government coalition, were moving forward, meanwhile, with their proposal to dissolve the Sami Parliament, and said they were disappointed their party had decided to let it stand. “Both I and many other voters are disappointed that the Progress Party’s campaign promises regarding Sametinget aren’t being followed,” Aud Martinsen of the Progress Party in Kåfjord in Troms County told newspaper Aftenposten.
Martinsen said she will continue to work towards trying to document that too much public money is spent on preserving the Sami language. She also will promote more mining activity in Northern Norway, which many Sami view with skepticism.