Dutkansearvi – Sámi Language and Culture Research Association and its Sámi language journal
The purpose of this text is to share information about Dutkansearvi, a Sámi Language and Culture Research Association founded by Sámi researchers on June 15th 2014 in Helsinki.
Dutkansearvi Research Association publishes a journal called Dutkansearvvi dieđalaš áigečála (in Northern Sámi) / Tutkâmseervi tieđâlâš äigičaalâ (in Inari Sámi) / Tuʹtǩǩeemsieʹbr tiõđlaž äi ́ǧǧpââ ́jjlõstt (in Skolt Sámi). No scientific publications in Sámi language had been published in Finland before the first Dutkansearvi journal in 2017. Thus, the association’s publishing activities have filled this gap in Finland. The journal is published digitally (http://dutkansearvi.fi/tieteellinen-julkaisu). Dutkansearvi’s objective is to increase the literary use of the Sámi languages in science and to promote research on the Sámi languages and culture. It also aims to strengthen the paradigm of Sámi and indigenous studies by looking at indigenous issues from their perspective. Dutkansearvi seeks to make the information produced by scientific research better available for evaluation by minority and indigenous language communities, and to increase co-operation between the scientific community and the Sámi-speaking communities. The association emphasizes reciprocity and cooperation between researchers and research participants as well as between researchers.
The following are Dutkansearvi’s publications to date, their topics and backgrounds:
Revitalization of the Sámi languages and the significance of language for indigenous peoples
The topic of the first issues of Dutkansearvi journal (2017-2018, 1/2019) is linguistic structures and the revitalization of Sámi languages. The articles were published in the three Sámi languages spoken in Finland: Northern, Inari and Skolt Sámi. The activities of the society are based on the notion that the ethnic core group that speaks the Sámi languages is very small and needs to be strengthened both inside and outside the various Sámi communities. The use of minority languages across ethnic borders is likely to increase tolerance towards the linguistic minority and to reduce fears about the intentions of the majority population among the minority. It would also increase information about the Sámi as well as tolerance towards the Sámi among the majority population. The association’s main objective was originally to reduce various ethnic tensions. It is also a matter of optimizing language transmission; making the Sámi languages more efficiently passed from one generation to the next and keeping them vibrant by increasing the number of speakers. In this context, the aim is to utilize the experience gained from the revitalization processes of other minority and indigenous languages, for example, the Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia and various indigenous peoples from all over the world.
Languages are central to the cultures of indigenous peoples. There is a close link between the traditional way of life, culture and language, and therefore indigenous peoples such as the Sámi emphasize the importance of preserving and nurturing cultural heritage, values and language in order to live a good life. Indigenous languages are vast repositories of indigenous knowledge, through which indigenous lifestyles, natural philosophies, ways of thinking, and rich oral knowledge open up. The traditional knowledge of many indigenous peoples includes knowledge of nature, livelihoods, and spiritual and aesthetic culture which are all closely tied to language.
Indigenous research, indigenous knowledge and theorizing
Indigenous studies, which also includes Sámi studies, is an internationally emerging field that deserves more visibility and impact in academic research than it currently has. It does not have the same prestigious academic status as other fields of science, at least in Finland. Such an undervalued position in the Academy may also be due to the discipline not having its own peer-reviewed journal in Finland. This was before the publication of Dutkansearvi journal, which is mainly written in the Sámi languages. On the other hand, indigenous academic symposia have been held around the world since the end of the 1960s, and the IWGIA (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs), founded in 1968, has published a scientific journal of the same name. Today, the prestigious journal of Indigenous Studies among Indigenous Peoples is AlterNative, published in Aotearoa, or New Zealand. Unfortunately, these journals are not well known and therefore the papers are also rarely cited.
Dutkansearvi’s second issue of 2019, Theorizing Indigenous Knowledge(s), focuses on global indigenous studies, indigenous knowledge and theorizing. The authors of the special issue are from around the world, and therefore the articles are written in English. In indigenous studies, there is a need for a constant dialogue with the prevailing traditional Western science and research, thus seeking to avoid unnecessary confrontation and representations of otherness. Using English in academic writing can be beneficial if it promotes reciprocity and collaboration between different researchers and fields of research. The articles in this special English edition are based on case studies that address methodological and ethical issues, such as how to approach indigenous knowledge with ethically and scientifically sustainable methods, to what extent the knowledge can be shared, or whether it only belongs to the community. They discuss how the researcher should exercise self-reflection and be aware of their own limitations and the position from which they consider things. This, of course, applies to all scientific research. It is important for the researcher to be aware of his or her role as a maker of different representations and interpretations, even if he/she comes from inside the community. Indigenous research is primarily a matter of looking at indigenous issues in a community-based and collaborative way.
According to indigenous researchers, indigenous knowledge production is holistic, relational, local, dynamic, and cyclical. However, information cannot be unambiguously defined as indigenous or Western, but rather should be understood through the prevailing power relations and the political and social contexts as well as implications of different information systems. The traditional knowledge of many indigenous peoples is a collectively cumulative, intergenerational knowledge of nature, tangible and intangible culture, all of which have a close connection with language. Thus, it can be said that traditional knowledge is relevant when we value, use, and revitalize language that supports traditions and knowledge.
Dutkansearvi a peer-reviewed journal and has achieved a level l rating in the Finnish Publication Forum. The board of the research association acts as an editorial board for the journal, and each number has its own editor in chief. Instructions for authors, as well as other information related to the association’s activities can be found on the website, http://dutkansearvi.fi/etusivu/. The Sámi Language and Culture Research Association Dutkansearvi invites you to write scientific articles on various themes. Articles are compiled by topic and published as they are completed. Possible research areas and themes include, for example, indigenous studies, linguistics, sociolinguistics and language contacts, and the revitalization of the Sámi languages.
Welcome to join Dutkansearvi.Irja Seurujärvi-Kari, Chair of Dutkansearvi