Indigeneity, Language and Authenticity

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Monthly Archives: March 2014



Some people wonder why I care about TV programmes and films that misrepresent my people, and the screencap above constitutes one of many answers to aforementioned question.

A while ago, one of Sweden’s foremost comedians Robert Gustafsson made a sketch in which he ridiculed the Saami by dressing himself up as an old Saami man, too obsessed with sex and porn to be able to speak Swedish at all whilst apparently complaining about a lack of media coverage from the national day of the Saami, and there were so many wrongs with the program in itself that I decided to completely ignore it at the time, for fear having to say anything about it at all would end up with me exploding in a cloud of ash, sulphur and a bad case of uncontained, lethal rage.

The sketch in itself relies on racist stereotypes about my people, and the use of broken, unintelligible Swedish is doubly insulting in that it completely trivialises a generational trauma of having our ancestral languages both physically and mentally beaten out of us in residential schools set up to keep us on one hand away from the modern world, and on the other to force us to forget our heritage and become ‘well-adjusted Swedish citizens’. Far too many elderly Saami speak what could only be referred to as a broken mix-language that is neither Saami, nor Swedish, because of these schools, and to then use this as a comedic feature to make fun of an indigenous minority that already faces discrimination from the majority is not to be a comedian, but to be an openly racist person that uses one’s privilege and fame to further harmful stereotypes about members of the Subaltern in Sweden.

Over the last couple of months, more and more comedians have started to make fun of the Saami by using harmful stereotypes and furthering anti-Saami racism through ‘comedy’, and I personally see a direct relation between this, and the fact that we as a people have become far more outspoken in our critique of the colonial power that occupies our lands.

When the Subaltern refuses to be silent, they have to be trivialised and satirised to a point where members of the majority find it possible to claim that we ‘complain about everything’, thus dismissing our very real and valid protests against e.g. neo-colonial intrusions on our lands, our the continuing failure by the Swedish state to ratify ILO 169.