Twenty-five Indigenous Sami remains returned by museum are reburied in northern Sweden

Krister Stoor, Johan Sandberg McGuinne, Per Wollberg, Mikael Jakobsson and Paulus Kuoljok at the ceremony. (Sara Björne/Sami Radio & SVT Sápmi)
Twenty-five skulls from indigenous Sami people were laid to rest Friday at a graveyard in northern Sweden, more than 70 years since they were exhumed.

The skulls were excavated at an old Sami burial ground in Lycksele in the 1950s – a time when racial biology was practiced in Sweden. The skulls were taken to the National History Museum in Stockholm for research.

Birch wood boxes containing the remains of Samis excavated from their burial ground in the 1950s. (Sara Björne/Sami Radio & SVT Sápmi)

It’s been 12 years since the Sami parliament in Kiruna, Arctic Sweden demanded that all Sami remains held in museums should be returned to their place of origin. And despite Friday afternoon’s ceremony, Mikael Jakobsson, chair of the Sami Parliament’s ethical council, says repatriation is taking too long, with Sami remains still in place at 11 state-owned museums.

“The work has been very slow,” he tells Swedish Radio.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian government apologizes to Ahiarmiut Inuit for forced relocations in Nunavut, CBC News

Finland: In Santa’s hometown, are tourism and a railway threatening Sámi culture?, Cryopolitics Blog

Norway: Injustices against Sámi, Kven peoples to be examined by commission in Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Report sheds light on Swedish minority’s historic mistreatment, Radio Sweden

United States: Inuit leaders to advance Indigenous human rights, Radio Canada International

Dave Russell and Sara Björne, Radio Sweden

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