“Indigenous Manifesto” by Niillas Holmberg

Niillas Holmberg is a Sami poet, musician, actor and activist. He has published five books of poetry and has been translated into more than ten languages. As a musician he works as a vocalist, guitarist, composer and lyricist. For many years he has been involved in several movements against exploitation of nature, such as mining, in the traditional Sami areas.

Niillas lives in his native Ohcejohka (Utsjoki), Saamiland (occupied by Finland).

(adapted from http://niillas.com)

Indigenous Manifesto (Holmberg)

Skjermbilde 2018-01-21 kl. 11.33.22

(from http://niillas.com/read)



  1. Read the poem a couple of times. Who is speaking in the poem? Who is the poem talking to? Explain your opinions.
  2. Go through the poem verse by verse. Which images are being used? What do they represent?
  3. Why is the second verse only one line long? What effect is created by this?
  4. Rewrite the poem as an email, using the same ideas and sentiments, but in your own words. 
  5. Read and watch the video links about the Sami and environmental issues. How does this poem reflect the real life struggles?


In this video, you can see Niillas Holmberg singing at the site of the Ellos Deatnu protest. He uses traditional joik in his song:


Further Work

Alice Eather was an Indigenous Australian poet who used her poetry to fight against mining in Northern Australia. You can find out more about her and her poetry here.


Word document of poem in English and in Sami: Indigenous Manifesto Holmberg