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Sweden: Government Announces Truth Commission at Sami Repatriation Ceremony Following Official Sami Request

(Dec. 12, 2019) On August 12, 2019, the Swedish government repatriated 25 skulls belonging to the Samis, an indigenous group living in an area known as Sápmi, which is spread over northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The skulls had been excavated during the 1950s during an archeological dig and sent to the […]

Sweden: Sami Rights Litigated in Dispute Between Two Sami Groups

(Nov. 27, 2019) On November 8, 2019, two indigenous Sami groups met in Lycksele District Court over who had the “better right” to herd reindeer in the Vapsten reindeer herding area, which includes parts of Storuman municipality in northern Sweden. (Case no. T329-17, Aktbilaga 133 Sammanställning [Case Addendum 13 Summary], on file with author.) Legal […]

Japan: New Ainu Law Becomes Effective

(Aug. 5, 2019) A new act that legally recognizes the Ainu as the indigenous people of Japan was promulgated on April 26, 2019, and became effective on May 24, 2019. (Act on Promoting Measures to Realize a Society in Which the Pride of the Ainu People Is Respected, Act No. 16 of 2019 (Ainu Promotion […]

India: Tripura State Hopes to Follow Assam in Establishing National Register of Citizens

(Nov. 5, 2018) The working president of the Congress Party in the Indian state of Tripura, Pradyot Debbarman, filed a petition before India’s Supreme Court on October 24, 2018, requesting that a National Register of Citizens be compiled for his state. Debbarman’s petition is the second one filed on this issue with the Supreme Court, […]

New Zealand: Decision on Scope of Crown/Maori Relations Portfolio and Establishment of New Office

(Sept. 25, 2018) On September 18, 2018, the New Zealand government announced that the Cabinet had agreed to the final scope of the Crown/Maori Relations ministerial portfolio and to establish a new agency called the Office for Maori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti. (Press Release, Kelvin Davis, Maori Crown Agency to Be Established (Sept. 18, 2018), New Zealand […]

Norway: Supreme Court: Finnmark Estate Agency Has Right to Regulate Fishery, Hunting and Use of Natural Resources in Finnmark

(Mar. 30, 2018) On March 9, 2018, the Norwegian Supreme Court issued a unanimous judgment in a dispute regarding who may regulate fishing, hunting, and the use of natural resources in the Nesseby municipality in Finnmark (part of the Sápmi region in the northern part of Norway, inhabited by the Sami people).  (Supreme Court Case, […]

Sweden: Appellate Court Grants Sami Village “Better Right” to Hunting Rights, but Not Control over Them

(Mar. 8, 2018) On January 23, 2018, the Appeals Court for Upper Norrland (Hovrätten for Övre Norrland) decided that the Sami village Girjas has a “better right” to fishing and hunting rights in its reindeer-grazing area than the Swedish state, concluding that the state has no right to fishing or hunting in that area. The […]

Taiwan: New Indigenous Languages Act

(June 21, 2017) On June 14, 2017, the Republic of China on Taiwan government promulgated the Indigenous Languages Development Act in order to “achieve historical justice, further preserve and promote the indigenous languages, and guarantee that the languages are used and passed down … .”  (Indigenous Languages Development Act (May 26, 2017), art. 1, Legislative […]

New Zealand: Bill Establishing River as Having Own Legal Personality Passed

(Mar. 22, 2017) On March 14, 2017, the New Zealand Parliament voted to pass the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River) Claims Settlement Bill (the Bill). (Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River) Claims Settlement Bill, Government Bill 129-2, as reported by the Māori Affairs Committee, New Zealand Legislation website.) The Bill “gives effect to the Whanganui River Deed […]

Sweden: Court Recognizes Exclusive Fishing Rights of Sami Village

(Feb. 9, 2016) On February 3, 2016, the District Court of Gällivare announced its verdict in a hunting and fishing rights dispute between the government of Sweden and Girjas, a Sami village (a community of the indigenous Sami people that is a special legal entity with special legal rights and duties different from an ordinary Swedish village). […]