Sami and Indigenous Peoples Law

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About the research group

The research group is established to strengthen cooperation between the Sami Law researchers at the Faculty. The subjects of the research group covers more than laws relating to natural resources. Sami Law researchers also deal with questions relating to the right of Sami people to use their native language, the health service and courts of law.

Sami and indigenous peoples law is one of three areas of strategic focus at the Faculty of Law. The Norwegian State has a joint responsibility to safeguard the Sami language, culture and industries, including that the Sami people's traditional land areas are recognised and given legal protection. Within this lie many major challenges of a legal nature.

Through the Research Group for Sami Law, the Faculty of Law aims to produce new knowledge that can contribute to making these challenges more manageable. As well as publishing legal texts, popular scientific literature, textbooks and other knowledge, our aim is to strengthen the research on Sami Law through teaching, purposeful recruitment of researchers and good academic supervision of students wishing to write Master's theses relating to Sami Law.

What is Sami Law?

Sami Law is a generic term for all the disciplines of law that deal with questions of particular relevance for the Sami people. The main objective of Sami Law can be described as ensuring that Sami people are able to develop their culture and way of life.

Sami Law focuses on rules of law where cultural differences between Sami people and the majority population leads to rules of law functioning differently. Given that the Sami people are spread across four countries, it means that large parts of Norwegian law, as well as Swedish, Finnish and Russian law, can in principle be Sami Law.

Although the Sami are an indigenous people in four countries, rather little in the way of Sami Law research has been produced. In Norway, only a small number of Sami Law dissertations have been presented for doctoral degrees. The most comprehensive research to date has been aimed at the "right to land and water". These questions have been revived through the Sami Law Committee II's law proposal in 2007, the Coastal Fishery Commission's law proposal in 2008 and the start of the Finnmark Commission's work in 2009.

Sami Law covers more than laws relating to natural resources. Sami Law researchers also deal with questions relating to the right of Sami people to use their native language in dealings with schools, the health service and courts of law. Other central questions of Sami Law are what perceptions of law the Sami people have, and what weight should be ascribed to these by the courts. Do Sami people have different views of rights than others? Does Sami self-determination mean that Sami should be able to make independent decisions in many types of cases? The research on Sami Law is also interested in what type of traditions today's Sami people have and how these can be protected against encroachments. Questions are also raised about which legal protection the juoiggus (traditional Sami song or chant) and other immaterial cultural expressions shall have.



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Sami and Indigenous Peoples Law

Øyvind Ravna
Det juridiske fakultet Universitetet i Tromsø
NO-9037 Tromsø
+47 776 46510
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