Would you like to make friends with this girl?

The most appropriate place to meet indigenous peoples from all over the world is at the festival Riddu Riđđu in Northern Norway.


Every year in July, the tiny costal sámi village Olmmáivággi in Northern Norway, is hosting the international indigenous festival. You have to drive a couple of hours from the nearest city, Tromsø, along the fjords, to find the festival hidden between majestic mountains. 

“I really appreciate the unique cultural experience at the festival, the intimate atmosphere and the ability to talk to both old friends and new, exiting people,” says Aili Keskitalo, the President of the Norwegian Sámi parliament, to BarentsObserver.

“By participating in this festival you celebrate the lifestyle and  the quality of life in the Arctic,” she adds.      

“Little storm by the coast”
The aim of the festival was originally to make people living in the area proud of their Sámi heritage.

Riddu Riđđu means «a small storm by the coast» and was created back in 1991, during the sámi cultural revitalization. Before that, almost the whole Sámi population in the area was assimilated into the Norwegian majority population. Hatred towards their roots was common. Sámi people shot down road signs in their native language and families split because some considered themselves to be Sámi, and some Norwegian. The brains behind the festival wanted to turn this negative trend and make the people proud of their Sámi identity and culture.     

According to the new festival leader, Karoline Trollvik, Riddu Riđđu is about tolerance and solidarity.

“We want to create a safe sphere where indigenous people from all around the world can experience their identity as something unproblematic and given, without having to feel questioned about it,” she says. 

Today the festival is one of the biggest and most important indigenous festivals in Europe. Each year indigenous peoples from all over the globe are invited to present their culture through music, theater, food traditions and handicrafts.  

Common challenges
Olga Egorova is Sámi from the Russian part of Sápmi. She was interpreting from English to Russian during the indigenous youth gathering at the festival. According to her Riddu Riđđu has become an important meeting place for youth from all over the indigenous world.    

“It is really inspiring to see youth from all corners of the world sharing ideas and experiences,” Egorova says. “When you leave the festival you are full of new energy.”

The youth learn about politics and indigenous rights, but also about each other’s culture and traditions through music and dance. According to Egorova the youth acknowledge that they share the same challenges. 

“We discussed the situation for indigenous peoples in the world and understand that we can make the situation better if we cooperate. Everything is possible,” she says.