CHONG ZI LIANG
The Sami are the only indigenous minority in Norway. For five centuries, the government assimilated them into the larger Norwegian-speaking lump to a point that their culture almost reached extinction. However, owing mostly to the strikes against a dam that the government planned to build in the late 1970s that would destroy Sami settlements, they regained a voice and an ethnic pride.
"Norway has one indigenous minority, Nepal has 60," said Haukur J Gunnarsson, director of the play. However, their approach to carving out an identity is vastly different from ours?and non-violent. Even though there are only 50,000 speakers of the Sami language, the Sami National Theatre always performs in Sami (with accompanying subtitles), no matter where they are.
Today, the Sami not only have constitutional rights but their children learn their mother tongue as a first language. Their national theatre is fully funded by the Norwegian government.