Author Bio

Patricia Fjellgren (Sami) is both South and North Sami from the Swedish side of Sápmi, and as an adult she took back both South and North Sami. She has a master of science in Sámi Language. She has worked with language revitalization of the Sámi languages in many different roles. In 2017 she received The Language Council of Sweden´s Minority Language Award for her work with revitalizing the Sámi Languages. She is also active as a producer of film and is now working on developing Sámi animated short stories for children. She was Assistant director and did the Sámi casting for the award winning film feature film Saami Blood. She has initiated and is working as an actor at Giron Sámi Teáhter with the innovative language project called Giellačirkuš/Language circus. patricia.fjellgren@gmail.com

Leena Huss (Sweden Finnish) belongs to the Sweden Finnish national minority in Sweden. She is professor emerita of Finnish at Uppsala University, Sweden, and professor II emerita of minority language research at the Arctic University of Norway. She has published, edited and co-edited extensively on reversing language shift in northern Scandinavia, contact linguistics and multilingualism, linguistic revitalization in education and language emancipation in Europe. Her current research covers language policies and planning, Indigenous and minority rights, and cultural revitalization among the South Sami in Sweden. During 2000-2004, she was the Swedish member of the Council of Europe Expert Committee monitoring the implementation of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. leena.huss@gmail.com


Our paper focuses on new ways to address silence and feelings of sadness surrounding language and cultural loss in Indigenous contexts, sometimes resulting in deep inter-generational trauma. As a consequence of two Council of Europe conventions ratified by Sweden, Indigenous and minority language maintenance and revitalization was included in the Human Rights commitments of the Swedish state in 2000. Work in these fields led in 2010 to the establishment of the Sami Language Center with the assignment to find new ways to ascertain that all the Sami languages spoken in Sweden would survive and develop as part of the Swedish national heritage. We discuss methods used at the Center to tackle large-scale community language loss, mixed feelings, and emotional blocks resulting from a history of stigmatization and forced assimilation. We provide examples of how these methods have affected local communities and individual people, leading to deeper reflection on the revitalization process and what is needed to strengthen it. We also discuss new kinds of efforts needed to deal with emotions surrounding revitalization, and conclude that revitalization should be seen as a holistic task involving body and mind. Furthermore, the consequences of the fact that language revitalization is considered by some a “women’s issue” (while there is a great need of including more men in revitalization efforts) are also discussed in this article.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.