The International Indigenous Riddu Riddu Festivála has taken place every year since 1991 in Manndalen, a Coastal Saami hamlet, in the municipality of Kåfjord in the county of Troms in the North of Norway. The festival represents by itself an independent event that through indigenous management and developed ethno-relations inside the country, promoting the idea of cultural awareness and sensitivity to all ethnic groups, however different they might be, and support them in terms of preservation of their culture, language, and lifestyle in our global and developed world.
This thesis is intended to show the ambiguity and complexity of the Coastal Saami identity in Manndalen, not only with relation to Norwegians, but also with reference to the situation among locals, between adults and youth, traditions and modernity. In other words, which relations between traditions and modernity does Riddu Riddu demonstrate? Therefore this thesis will try to find out the relation of manndalinger to the cultural invention and show their chosen way of the invasion of traditions and how far they accept distortions as authentic to their heritage during the process of cultural invention and which sign-substitutions can be defined in relation to Coastal Saami culture today. Moreover, the purpose of this thesis is to understand the process by which means invented portions of culture acquire authenticity. In other words, how the social reproduction of culture – the process whereby people learn, embody, and transmit the conventional behaviours of their society (Hanson 1989:898) – is happening in the Coastal Saami community today. Therefore the Riddu Riddu festival will be considered further as one of the examples of Coastal Saami cultural invention with the purpose of revitalization an ethnic identity.
Thus, the Riddu Riddu festival can be seen as a visible tool in Manndalen’s process of ethnic revitalisation. In this case, can the festival be considered as an example of an imagined community (Anderson 1983), created as a cultural arena for the Saami political debates and bringing Saami people, the young and the old generation, together? Further, the festival can be seen as an important tool in the process of Coastal Saami ethnic revitalisation with perspectives on northern indigenous and in general world community nowadays. What is the role of this imagined community for its participants? What challenges do manndalinger have in creating both a local and a global symbolic community?
This master thesis is tended to bring up questions for further discussions and become one of the colourful pieces in the mosaic of understanding the Riddu Riddu festival and its role in the revitalisation of Saami identity.