Photo of potatoes in a firebed, from the Interreg Aurora project Máhtut. Logos from Interreg Aurora, Interreg Cooperation Day and European Year of Skills.

Árbediehtu – transferring traditional Sami knowledge and skills

The Interreg Aurora has a unique feature, the Programme is integrated with Sápmi and the indigenous Sami people. The Sami are the only officially recognized indigenous people in the European Union (EU). On Interreg Cooperation day, Interreg Aurora wants to highlight àrbediehtu.

What is árbediehtu?
The meaning of árbediehtu is Sami traditional knowledge, passed on through generations. It includes values, practices, and holistic understanding of the interlinkages between people and nature/environment. The word stems from árbi, which means heritage, and diehtu – knowledge.

The traditional knowledge transfer in the Sami communities, árbediehtu, is inherited throughout life, in all aspects of life. Árbediehtu is the core element for the Sami culture, languages and for the Sami businesses.

European Year of Skills 2023 – what can we learn from árbediehtu?
According to the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, article 31, “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions…” and it is also described that states shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.

The Interreg Aurora Programme document emphasizes the importance of that the Sami people, that are living close to nature and working in the Arctic landscape, are not only witnesses to the effects of climate change. They are also experts on how to address these effects and undertake measures to adapt to and prevent them.

Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are crucial to Sami ways of life, culture, languages, food systems, health and wellbeing and livelihoods. Sami customary sustainable use and árbediehtu are thus important to recognize and take in consideration in decision-making and management.

Árbediehtu as an important part of project implementation
The Interreg Aurora Programme funds projects that aims to promote, strengthen, and make árbediehtu more visible. It is important to involve Sami knowledge holders.

The Interreg Aurora funded project Máhtut promotes and supports practices and inter-generational transfer of Sami traditional subsistence skills and knowledge and aims to strengthen Sami ideas of circularity and food sovereignty.

“Árbediehtu means that many of the Sami skills (if not all) are based on life depending on the land. Skills have been tested through centuries of time in real situations. This means products and ways to act at certain situations are tested with generations of accumulated knowledge that exceeds any testing periods of let’s say, for example modern industrial products.” Mika Aromäki, Máhtut

The Interreg Aurora funded project Preparatory DigiÁrran wants to develop digital games to strengthening Sámi language, culture, and teaching.

“The metaverse allows for a blend of physical and virtual realities. It can be a powerful tool for indigenous peoples such as Sami to preserve and develop their traditional knowledge as they can use the metaverse to shape and share their own stories and knowledge. Within this space, they can bring to life their customs, tales, and teachings, all while maintaining control over their narrative. While others can visit this digital realm to immerse in and learn about Sami culture, it’s essential that the Sami themselves are the owners and storytellers, ensuring the true essence of their traditions remains intact.” Kati Eriksen, Preparatory DigiÁrran

Interreg Aurora will be an important resource for the safeguarding and development of the Sami culture, livelihood, industries, and the Sami languages.

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