A Decolonial View

By students in the Colonial and Postcolonial Master

Thoughts on the Church of Sweden’s apology to the Sámi people

Postat den 25th November, 2021, 16:10 av

“After 85 years in the basement of Uppsala Carolina Rediviva /I find you /my mother my family my people /in the racial biologists 20 measurement tables /in the naked pictures”

Extract of the testimony of Rose-Marie Huuva

Yesterday, 24 nov 2021, the Church of Sweden apologized to the Sámi people in an official ceremony in Uppsala and live on their website. But what was it that they apologized for, and what does it really mean? 

Before Antje Jackelen, the archbishop, gave the official apology, five representatives of the Sámi community gave their testimonies to the acts of abuse the Church has made itself guilty of. Their speeches were short, personal, and moving. They ranged from stories of loss of language and identity, to memories from the nomadic school, to finding one’s mother pictured naked in a photograph kept in the university library of Uppsala, and more. Hearing the testimonies, it becomes evident that the abuses the Church of Sweden is guilty of has had fundamental effects on every aspect of Sámi society. 

The apology itself, given by the archbishop, was solemn. She touched on the areas of which the five representatives just before her had brought up – the Church acknowledged and apologized for their part in assimilation, dehumanization, and colonization of land. The apology was accompanied by a promise to keep on working for reconciliation, hopefully meaning: this is just the beginning!

What I hope for in the continued work towards reconciliation, and what I missed in Wednesdays ceremony is this: actual factual returning of land and power.  The Church of Sweden owns 60 thousand hectare land in Luleå diocese, which yields 13 million sek per year.[1] Härnösands diocese owns just over 93 thousand hectare land[2], which in 2020 yield them 31 million sek.[3] What would it look like if the Sámi society got more power and influence when it comes to how the land is used, and over where the money it brings in is put?

For how can the church of Sweden apologize for sweeping Sámi religion under the rug, treating the students of the nomadic school as less than; opening the door for racial biology in Sweden; and taking the lands from the Sámi people – without subsequently working for opportunities for Sámi people to rediscover their spirituality and heal the generational trauma colonialism has effected in, advocate for pictures of and actual remains of Sámi ancestors be returned/buried, and give land back?

Alva Blomkvist


[1] https://www.svenskakyrkan.se/luleastift/skog

[2] https://www.svenskakyrkan.se/harnosandsstift/skog-och-egendom

[3]  https://www.svenskakyrkan.se/filer/500252/Egendomnsn%C3%A4mnden2020_l%C3%A5g.pdf?id=2229556

Det här inlägget postades den November 25th, 2021, 16:10 och fylls under blogg

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