Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sitting in my hotel room in Oslo!

I've arrived! I've been here for almost 12 hours - got to my hotel about 10 or so hours ago. I didn't sleep much on the plane, so once I got to the hotel, I got ready for bed and tried to sleep. I think I did, but I woke up every couple of hours. Then, I showered and went to dinner. Figured out the internet connection, too. I can text friends via the internet, so I did some of that.

I considered taking the train into the city - my hotel is near the airport - but I decided that I'm too tired and wouldn't have the patience to wait for trains and other transport. So, I'm hanging out watching Norwegian TV, blogging, sending texts to Scott, Eddie and my folks, and resting. I'll probably go to sleep here within the next half hour.

I head to the airport at 7:30am Norwegian time - my flight to Alta is at 9am. My host, Kaisa Helander-Rautio (or is it Rautio-Helander?), will pick me up in Alta and from there, we drive 130km due south, I believe, to what Norwegians call Kautokeino and what the Sami call Guovdageiadnu. Other attendees are from South Africa and Hawaii and Greenland, in addition to Kaisa. I assume we'll have a chance to just hang around Alta and look around tomorrow and then we start planning this conference on Monday. Tuesday will be our day to go on an excursion to see Sami places and learn their Sami placenames.

I told Immigration what I was here for - to work on an indigenous placenames conference and then to learn Sami names and her reply was, "That language is dying. Hardly anyone speaks it anymore." And, then I said that I was working with a linguist and she said again that the language was dying.

From what I've seen - a few years ago during IASSA's conferene in Fairbanks - there were Sami there and it seems that the Sami are working really hard on language revitalization efforts and on Sami rights, in general. I got the impression that the Sami language was doing relatively well. I will find out for sure this week.

In the end, my first impression of this conversation with the Immigration lady was that the dominant society, again, tends to be so uninformed about the status of indigenous peoples and indigenous cultures within their own borders. Reminds me of a quote I have on my door from George W. Bush - a "Bushism" in which he claims the U.S. government "gave" or "granted" Native peoples sovereignty. Duh! My undergraduates knows that sovereignty is NOT something that is granted by another government - it's inherent.

Still a long way to go on indigenous rights, not just in the U.S., but here in Norway, too.


Daria said...

How exciting to follow you on your journey ...

Dee said...

Hi Daria,
I hope you have fun following me as I go through this week! I know I am! I'll try to post some photos.
Take care.