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Common Ground: The Power of Coming Together, Sápmi to Country

A new documentary that unites Swedish Sami and Indigenous Australian voices under a common mission to protect Country and share culture.

Sanna Vannar, Reindeer Herder, Sirges Sami Community Chair, The National Sámi Youth Association, Sweden. Image by Klas Martin Eriksson.

A new documentary short-film Common Ground: The Power of Coming Together, Sápmi to Country details the struggles of indigenous peoples across the world in response to colonisation and the appropriation of traditional lands for resource development. Whilst investigating the entrenched exploitation of culture and land, the film also details the collective resistance against these acts and the maintenance and revitalisation of indigenous cultures.

Common Ground follows a delegation of Sami Indigenous representatives from Sámpi in Sweden and Finland as they visit Australia, spending time with members of the Darug community in the Yarramundi Regional Park in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains.

Lexodious Dadd, Warmuli Man part of the Darug Nation. Image by Klas Martin Eriksson.

United under a common struggle to protect their traditional lands and livelihoods from resource extraction, the film explores how these diverging cultures unite under a common mission to protect land, share customs and restore balance.

Anna-Maria, a Sami reindeer herder and doctoral student at Stockholm University, highlights the importance of the trip in locating her research on the conflicts between extractionism and indigenous peoples’ land use within a global context.

“It is clear that there are many common denominators in this type of conflict in other parts of the world, but also different ways of relating to them politically for indigenous peoples.”

Image by Klas Martin Eriksson.

The experience also served as a significant opportunity to share traditional practices and perspectives in the connection between the natural environment and its preservation.

“As an indigenous person meeting other indigenous people, the trip also meant meeting people on a spiritual level:  we got to participate and share with us our different ways of relating to phenomena in nature and the surrounding landscape,” says Anna-Maria.

Niila Inga, Saami Council and reindeer herder from Leaves Saami Community. Photo by Emma Sofia Olsson.

Niila Inga, a reindeer herder from Leaves Saami Community, shared similar sentiments about the trip, finding the experience a space of belonging.

“Being able to meet other indigenous peoples who are in the same situation and have similar traditions and ways of life is very empowering for our self-esteem. You realise that we are not as alone as we sometimes feel…there are many of us around the world living under similar conditions.”

A special thanks to researchers Dr Rebecca Lawrence, Dr Marnie Graham, filmmaker Klas Martin Eriksson and Darug custodian Uncle Lex.

 


This film was funded by FORMAS, The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development, REXSAC “Resource Extraction and Sustainable Arctic Communities – A Nordic Centre of Excellence”, and The Research Council of Norway.

This project was supported by Griffith University, Luleå Technical University, Macquarie University, Stockholm University, Stockholm Environment Institute, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sydney Environment Institute (The University of Sydney), University of Newcastle and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.


For media enquiries, contact Vivienne Reiner, University of Sydney Media and Public Relations Adviser, +61 2 9351 2390 or vivienne.reiner@sydney.edu.au.