Growing problem with fake indigenous peoples in the US and Canada – NRK Sápmi

Before Christmas, NRK revealed that several people won the right to vote in the Sami parliamentary elections without considering themselves to be Sami.

The Sami Parliament therefore decided to examine the number of voters to determine its magnitude.

In the United States and Canada, this type of challenge is not new. In recent years, several high-profile figures have been accused of lying about an Aboriginal identity.

The latest to come out is top professor and former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in Canada. Canada’s National Broadcaster Radio Canada last fall, she investigated his background and discovered that his claims about his Cree affiliation were false.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (#3 from right) is considered one of Canada’s most successful and decorated Indigenous scholars and professionals. She claimed to have aboriginal ancestry through her father, who she said was Cree. But CBC investigations show the father had British parents.

Photo: DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Turpel-Lafond herself refused to submit documents about her Aboriginal origin.

Activist and actor Sacheen Littlefeather is also accused of lying about his ethnicity. She shot to world fame in the ’70s for one of the most hyped Oscar moments of all time.

Sacheen Littlefeather, Roger Moore and Liv Ullmann

Hollywood legend Marlon Brando caused both outcry and scandal when in 1973 he refused to receive the Oscar statuette for best male actor. Instead, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, who took the stage and gave a speech on behalf of Native Americans. At that moment, she was both booed and applauded by the audience.

Photo: ScanPix

She has told throughout her career that she had a father who comes from the White Mountain Apache tribe, an indigenous group of America.

But after his death last year fall, the sisters came out and said she was actually half Mexican and half white.

You need javascript to play “The Activist Who Fooled Hollywood” audio clip.

This is not a new phenomenon

The problem of manufactured indigenous peoples has become a growing problem in Canada and the United States, according to Professor Kim BigBear at the University of Alberta in Canada.

– Before, I thought it only happened once in a while, but now I see that it is very widespread. I fear such fabricated natives are in excess in some parts of the country, says TallBear.

TallBear belongs Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation in South Dakota in the United States. Even when she was growing up in the 1970s, she heard stories of people making up false stories about themselves as natives.

– In the 70s, they were called the midshipmen. Now there are other terms, like raceshifters and pretenders, says TallBear.

In order to correct the past injustices of racism and colonization, several institutions and universities now want to employ people of Aboriginal origin. Therefore, there is a big problem with fake natives, especially in academia, TallBear believes.

– When it is necessary be Native can give benefitsso it’s several who are wrongly ready claim that they are indigenous, said Big Bear.

fiery conflict

Our neighboring country Finland has also had it for many years been A very inflamed conflict in regards to of which as duty obtain the right to vote for the Sami Parliament.

– We have seen blatant examples of Finns wanting to take part in the census and using the Sami Parliament to promote their own agenda, says Petra Laiti.

She leads the Sami youth organization Suoma Sámi Nuorat. She considers that the current legislation in Finland allows people who have no connection with the Sami language and culture to have the right to vote in the Sami parliamentary elections.

Petra Laiti

The leader of the Sami youth organization Suoma Sámi Nuorat, Petra Laiti, has been heavily involved in changing the Finnish Sami Parliament Act.

Photo: Tiina Jutila / Yle

This is a disputed criterion in the Finnish Sami Parliament Act which is at the heart of the dispute. In the law, there is a clause stipulating that the descendants of people registered as “Samis” in several public registers that are centuries old can ask to be registered on the electoral lists.

Since 2011 he has The highest förvaltningsdomstolen (corresponding to the Norwegian Supreme Court) awarded more than 160 people right to vote according to this criterion, even if the Sami society does not recognize these persons as Sami.

The Sami Parliament had rejected their demands for inclusion in the census, but they appealed the case in court and won.

Laiti thinks it is wrong that the Sami themselves do not decide who can be considered Sami or not.

– The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law is on a collision course with the Sami understanding of who is Sami, says Laiti.

Finland has received strong critical for this of the UN, both Since human rights committee And the racial discrimination committee. They claim that Finland has violated the human rights of the Sami.

– Good control in Sweden

In Sweden, on the other hand, the fact that only the Sami are included in the electorate of the Sami Parliament is well controlled. At least that is the opinion of Jennie Granberg, president of the electoral commission of the Sami Parliament.

All new applications for electorate membership are considered by a separate Election Commission, which is appointed by the Sami Parliament.

Jennie Granberg

Jennie Granberg is the head of the electoral committee of the Sami Parliament in Sweden.

Photo: Jenny Israelsson Skoglund / Sameradion & SVT Sápmi

Granberg believes that it is not possible to cheat with his right to vote in the Swedish Sami Parliament.

– It’s impossible today. We have good control over who applies, and we thoroughly review new applications against various records, such as national archives, church records, and genealogical records, says Granberg.

But in Sweden, too, there are sometimes heated debates about the number of voters.

In 2016, the Samiland Party filed a complaint against the entire population, because they believed that there were people in the population who were not Sami. The party demanded that the entire staff of almost 9,000 be reviewed again. They were not approved by the county administrative board because a party cannot appeal the number of people, only individuals.

– There is always someone who questions the number of voters. Among other things, it appeared that people married to Sami people were included in the voter count. We know that, says Granberg, who personally has no problem with it.

New law in Finland

In Finland is a new Sami Parliament Act below treatment at the Riksdag.

He suggests among other things, to remove the controversial “patch criterion” in the law.

Petra Laiti does not dare to hope that the law will actually be passed. The Sanna Marin government is the third government that is now trying to introduce the bill. Twice before, the bill failed. The bill was submitted to the Riksdag in November, where it is currently under review.

– What is different now is that the rest of the Finnish people are interested in the issue and we have received wide support for the bill, but it is still not certain that it will pass , says Laiti.

She has followed with interest the debate currently taking place in Norway.

– We have been following the situation in Finland for so long that we find it strange that there has not been more discussion about it in Norway.

– For us, it has long been clear that the number of people can be misused, says Laiti.

Alice Williamson

"Explorer. Food advocate. Analyst. Freelance bacon practitioner. Future teen idol. Proud pop culture expert."

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