Miss Melannie Denise Cunningham

253 PEACE QUEEN

One Sami family’s fight against the Norwegian government

She walked through the lobby of the hotel in her native dress. It was a full black felt knee-high dress with colorful hem. The skirt was so full it kicked out when she walked. Her dress included a golden belt and silver medallions around her neck. Our director, Jim, said he saw her on Norwegian TV. So, Miss Melannie approached her to learn her story.

Maret Anne Sara is a member of the Sami people and she was living what she called a nightmare. The Sami are the indigenous people of Norway. The government of Norway demanded her brother slaughter 225 of his 300 reindeer herd. Reindeer herding had been in her family for centuries. The government demands to slaughter his reindeer would mean financial ruin for her brother.

Maret is an artist. She said she¬†studied how North American indigenous people used art to advocate for their cause. She references the art in ‘Pile of Bones” (which is a reference from a brutal colonial history of settlers who massacred the buffalo to eliminate food source of indigenous people and thereby get control over their land) when she used reindeer heads to create an installation to protest her brother’s plight. (Please see the image in her website).

She told Melannie that brother has been working for many months to overturn the Norwegian government’s orders to make her brother kill most of his herd. Her brother has even appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Just yesterday, Maret told Melannie, she learned that her brother’s petition to the Norwegian government was denied by the Norwegian Parliament. This caused Maret to continue to protest by turning her native dress inside-out.

She talked with Melannie about this story and the plight of her family. She added that her family has started a “Adopt a Reindeer” Go Fund Me Campaign to help her brother pay the fines imposed by the government. This site contains much more information about Sara’s brother and his fight with the Norwegian Government.

Adopt a Reindeer go-fund-me campaign

Nordic Black Theatre: Meet the Masters

Before leaving Tacoma, Melannie did some research to find a few famous Black people in Norway she could meet. She lucked out when she found the Masters family. She arranged to interview the two brothers of the family at the Nordic Black Theatre located in a charming old building in the middle of Oslo.

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Christoffer Roppen Masters (left), 26, is an actor and Rap artist. His brother, Nicolas (right), 21, is studying to be an engineer.

Christoffer gained fame in Norway when he performed his first Rap song in 2014 with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and it was broadcast to all of Norway. “It was an uplifting song of inspiration that everybody could relate to,” Chris said.

Melannie asked if these two Black men are in any way fearful of the police in Norway. “Absolutely not,” was the reply from both men. “The police are here to protect us,” they both agreed.

 

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Nicolas added, “It is mind-boggling to me that not everyone in your country (U.S.) is taken care of.”

Following the interview the crew was treated to an original Rap performance by Christoffer.

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Before the Parade Passes by…

The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony concluded with a unique parade through the streets of Oslo. Thousands of people carried flaming torches as they marched from the Oslo station to the Grand Hotel in downtown Oslo–where they were greeted by the Nobel Peace Prize winners waving from the balcony. And Miss Melannie and Jewel were at the center of the action.

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