Indigeneity, Language and Authenticity

Home » About


Buerie båeteme mov blovgkese!
Fàilte chun an làraich-lìn a th’agamsa!

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Johan Sandberg McGuinne and I am a Swedish South Saami and Scottish Gaelic 31 years old teacher, translator and academic (linguistics, literature and indigeneity) currently residing in Liksjoe, Sweden. As of May 2018, I am the President of the Saami Writers’ Centre in Jokkmokk, and I am passionate about making sure that Saami literature is afforded the space and resources it deserves to thrive.

As a member of an indigenous community and a minority culture, I’m also passionate about decolonisation, education and endangered languages, as well as questions of authenticity and identity politics from an indigenous perspective.

The South Saami’s ancestral lands cover Sweden and Norway from Dalarna in the south to Dearna and Raane in the north, and my own family hails from Vualtjere in the northern parts of our territory. In South Saami, which is only spoken by between 500 and 1000 people today, our country – unlawfully colonised by the Swedish and Norwegian settler states since the late 16th century – is called Saepmie. I was raised in Ubmeje and later moved to Linköping, before attending university in Gothenburg, Freiburg-im-Breisgau (Germany) and Sruighlea (Scotland).

My Gaelic family comes from Nìs on the Isle of Lewis, and as part of a reclamation process of the second of my two endangered languages, I taught Gaelic and was a member of a Scottish Gaelic choir in Sruighlea where I was resident until mid-2013.

I intend to use this space to write long, as well as shorter posts about the following subjects in English, Swedish and, occasionally, South Saami and Scottish Gaelic:

  • Decolonisation
  • Education
  • Linguistics
  • Endangered Languages
  • Indigeneity
  • Post-colonialism
  • Poetry

If you wish to quote me, please do so in the following manner;

Sandberg McGuinne, Johan. “Title of the post.” Indigeneity, Language and Authenticity, Day Month Year the post was published. Web. Day Month Year the post was accessed. [url]


  1. Helen K says:

    I’m glad I found your blog. I enjoy reading about this aaand I love poetry. I’m Dane Zaa and Cree from North Western Canada and I can relate so much to a lot of what you are writing.

  2. jaguarpython says:

    Fantastic blog!

    (I have to admit that I myself come from a scummy colonialist background in that my family are Sinhala (NOT the indigenous people of Sri Lanka as you probably know, despite their claims to the contrary), and I have lived in 3 other former British colonies all of which had native people prior to their colonisation.)

    I’m studying Indigenous Health as a subject in Australia at the moment and reading a blog like yours is invigorating and is keeping me passionate about trying to improve things!

  3. Dennis says:

    J – Glè mhath! Bidh sinn a’ feitheamh ris. – D

  4. Zsolt says:

    I’m glad I found your blog as well. I love both Irish and Scottish culture (btw I’m totally cheering for Scottish independence), and have found about the Sámi quite recently. Amazing, beautiful people living in a truly wonderful, mysterious land.

  5. Luci Chambers says:

    I am glad to have found your site because most Finnish peope I know do not want to discuss these topics. I am interested in them because I have Saami ancestors, which I have just recently discovered. I live in the US and did not grow up learning Saami customs or way of life, or at least was not aware of Saami values as such, and did not speak Saami, or dress Saami. And of course, haven’t experienced the Saami oppression. So while my heart aches to reconnect with my Saami roots, I do not know how I could do this. Maybe you would think I should not. What are your thoughts about this?

    • J. Sandberg McGuinne says:

      Reconnecting with one’s heritage is always a tricky business, and often quite painful. I would advice you to find out as much as possible about your relatives’ personal histories first, to really understand who you are and where you fit in in a Saami context and then read up on current Saami issues.

      Also, on a related note and please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to convey when I’m saying that being an American Saami is very different from being a Saami in Saepmie. This is not a criticism aimed at you, I don’t know you, but unfortunately I have seen many American Saami try to appropriate Native American indigenous spaces without acknowledging the fact that as a settler in America, one is not native, regardless of the indigeneity of one’s ancestors in an another part of the world. Having said that I wish you the best of luck with your quest to rediscover your own history and I truly hope you will be able to reconnect with your heritage, and that you’ll feel more grounded as a person when – not if – you do.

  6. Marconatrix says:

    Cha robh Gàidhig ‘s am bith ann an Sruìle nuair a bha mi a’ fuireach ‘s a’ sin. Eadar an t-oilthigh ‘s am baile cha bhuail me air dhuine beò aig an robh i, as aonais an fhir a’ teagaisg class oidhche ‘sa bhaile. Agus sin fad iomadh bliadhna. Tha mi’n dòchas gu bheil an suidheachadh nas fheàrr a-nise. Cothrom na Féinne dhuit, co-dhiù 🙂

    500 a’ bruidhinn SS, sin uabhasach ìosal. A bheil i ‘ga bruidhinn fhathast ‘s a’ choimhearsnachd, gu h-àraid a-measg nan clann? Sin a’ cheist as cudromaiche.

  7. Iain MacIlleChiar says:

    A charaid, bha mi aig òraid an-diugh air làmh-sgrìobhainnean Gàidhlig ann an Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba agus san dol seachad, thug a’ bhan-òraidiche iomradh air dealbhan is cunntasan a rinn Iain Òg Ìle, am fear-cruinneachaidh sgeulachdan, am measg nan Saami. Sheall i dhuinn dealbh no dhà is bha iad brèagha dathte. Thàinig e a-staigh orm gur dòcha nach biodh fios aig eòlaichean Saami gun robh an leithid ann. ‘S e Ulrike Hogg, ban-Ghearmailteach, an leabharlannaiche a bha a’ bruidhinn.

  8. Jabnaki says:

    I am trying to restore the Dutch creole languages which where spoken on the Virgin Islands and in Guyana. The one from Berbice had many words from the Arawaks who are a indigenous people. Even more words come from the east African Ijaw languages. I need to look close at creole languages in general and the Dutch ones, so that I can guess what I could add. I am not related to the people. I just like the languages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: