Climate change, mining and pollution are three of the biggest threats to the Sami people, as the original inhabitants of the icy northern reaches of Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia are known. Elisabeth Utsi Gaup is part of a group of Sami women have travelled to Darwin to attend the World Indigenous Network conference, where hundreds of delegates from more than 50 countries are gathering. She is amazed at how similar the challenges of indigenous people are in Africa, Australia the Pacific and Canada.


"We know you can lose the land if you don't work with it," she said. "We are a strong people. We have our language, our education but we are so few."

Sami people have 300 words to describe snow and climate change is one of the biggest problems for the survival of her culture.

Changes to the consistency of snow have already been noticed, she said. Reindeer are the mainstay of the traditional Sami economy and they are increasingly caught in slushy conditions caused by warm weather, making them easy prey for wolves.

Berit Inga is another Sami woman who has joined the delegation in Darwin and says that mining companies are changing Sami life, by offering cash to certain groups but changing the landscape.

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