We do not speak our parents’ mother tongue. Instead, our first language is persian/farsi, which is not our parents’. The language that we learned as children, is instead the language that the central power in iran has imposed on ethnic minorities throughout the ages in order to wipe out the minorities’ culture and history; establish the central power’s political influence, and strengthen the illusion of one nation, one people, one language. This oppression has always been resisted by the minorities in iran, as reflected in the recent months’ nationwide protests.
Naturally, this is not a phenomenon unique to iran. The colonisation of Sápmi follows the same pattern. Pages from the history of swedish nation-building locked in dusty archives: forced assimilation, extermination of Sami languages, culture and traditions. This is still happening when language variants are in danger of disappearing, when the mining industry threatens the basic rights of the Sami people, when Sami culture and language are not mentioned a single time in the new swedish populist right-wing governing parties’ political agreement. When the only ambition of the current government’s language policy is to find out the easiest way to discontinue mother tongue education altogether.
Therefore, it is incredibly important to recognise and support all attempts to resist this development. We are incredibly honoured that Where is Nora’s sledge? has been translated into a number of Sami languages. Nora can now search for her sledge in bidumsámegiella (Pitesámi), julevsámegiella (Lulesámi), ubmejesámiengiälla (Umesámi) and årjelsáemien gïele (Southern Sámi).
Many thanks to Regine Nordström, Polarbibblo and the County Library in Norrbotten for promoting and preserving Sami languages and multilingualism in sweden. We are indebted to everyone who translated and lent their voice to this project: Inger Fjällås, Sara-Hélen Persson, Peter Steggo, Krïhke Rehnsberg, Lajla Marlene Toven and Moa Backe Åstot. The book is already available in Davvisámegiella (Northern Sámi) translated by Kristina Utsi.
A high-ranking politician, we can call him “Uffe”, counted up the swedish values a few years ago. One of which was: In sweden, you speak swedish. Uffe and the You he is referring to, are welcome to keep content by just speaking swedish.
But in our sweden, we are proudly multilingual.
In sweden we speak ubmejesámiengiälla.
In sweden we speak Dari.
In sweden we speak Somali.
In sweden we speak Meänkieli.
In sweden we speak Kale.
In sweden we speak…
In our sweden all children will have the right to learn their mother tongue!