A Voice and an Ear | God's World News

A Voice and an Ear

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    King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon received representatives from the Sámi people. They talked about wind power plants on Sámi land. (Simen Løvberg Sund, The Royal Court)
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    King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon greet their Sámi visitors. (Simen Løvberg Sund, The Royal Court)
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    Statkraft owns this wind farm in Hitra, Norway. (Statkraft handout/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)
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    Sámi reindeer herder Jon Mikkel Eira captures a reindeer outside Karasjok, Norway. (Heiko Junge /NTB Scanpix via AP)
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    This photo of a Sámi man and child with a reindeer was taken around the year 1900. The Sámi still live in the Sápmi region. (Nasjonalbiblioteket/CC BY 2.0 DEED)
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These activists oppose a wind farm in Norway. They say the industry harms Norway’s Indigenous population. At the center of the blustery culture clash? Giant wind turbines that may prevent the Sámi from practicing their heritage: herding reindeer.

Today, between 50,000 and 100,000 Sámi inhabit a region that includes large parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia’s Kola Peninsula. The indigenous Sámi people have maintained herds there for centuries. In the past, people called the region Lapland. But the Sámi strongly prefer the name Sápmi.

Wind turbines dot Sápmi. They’re part of Europe’s largest onshore wind farm project. Some farms sit squarely on prime Sámi reindeer land.

In October 2021, Norway’s Supreme Court declared that two wind farms violated the Sámi reindeer herding rights. But two years later, the turbines are still spinning.

Wind farm foot-dragging has Sámi supporters angry. They don’t oppose “green” energy. But they say energy concerns shouldn’t harm Indigenous peoples.

Sámi activists have protested several times since the court’s ruling. People dressed in traditional colorful garments plopped down inside parliament and outside Statkraft, the government-owned company that operates 80 wind turbines in Sápmi.

In February 2023, activists planted themselves outside the offices of Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for four days. The next September, they blocked entrances to 10 ministries and erected a lavvu, a tipi-like structure, on the lawn.

Finally, Sámi herders asked for a meeting with the Norwegian king and his son, the heir to Norway’s throne.

Before the meeting, activist Elle Nystad said, “We have nowhere else to go.”

The herders knew the king had no political power. But they say, “We just want to be listened to.”

God instills in humans a need to be seen and heard. He alone sees and hears all. Hagar knew God as the one who saw her plight. (Genesis 16:13) She called Him El Roi, “the God who sees.” Today, praying Christians have a daily audience—not with a temporary, nominal, earthly king—but with an eternal, almighty, heavenly one.

In October, King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon met with Sámi herders and activists at the royal palace in Oslo.

“It was a very strong moment for us—emotionally charged,” activist Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen told a newspaper. She said the meeting with the royals made “a world of difference” to the protesters.

“We experienced not only being believed,” Isaksen says. The group also had “a human meeting with someone who really meets people with compassion and sympathy.”

You are a God who sees me. — Genesis 16:13 NASB

Why? When we give others opportunity to speak and to be heard, we dignify the human individuals God created and loves.

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