At a press conference following his election on August 28, Olav Fykse Tveit, from the (Lutheran) Church of Norway, said dealing with the issues facing indigenous people “will be on my agenda as it also important for the World Council of Churches.”
He said the indigenous peoples of Norway, the Sami, have their own church council within the Church of Norway as well as having their own parliament as part of wider Norwegian society. This kind of representative level of decision making was something other nations may consider as a model for their own use, Tveit suggested.
Tveit said, however, it was even more important to be aware of the positive contribution native peoples can make in the wider community on many issues beyond that of indigenous affairs.
It was often the case, he said, that indigenous people and concerns were too often seen as “problems,” but wider society should see the insights they bring to all issues. He said First Peoples or aboriginal people often had special gifts that are unique and of benefit to the whole of society.
The Sami people of northern Scandinavia and Russia are one of the largest indigenous ethnic groups in Europe. They were previously referred to as “Lapps” or “Lapplanders” but this term is now rejected.