Words and reality
Does it matter what we call each other? Store norske leksikon has received both praise and criticism for changing the policy on how it refer to the indigenous peoples of the American continent. While generations of Norwegians relate to and are comfortable with the term “Indians”, even as a label that carries respect, “America’s indigenous peoples” is a term that more accurately and neutrally describes reality.
This panel will discuss how words shape our images of each other, and how we deal with it.
Language is, by definition, a simplification of reality. Balancing simplicity with accuracy is at the core of an encyclopedia, which aims to be both educational and accessible to the general public. But how do we strike the balance? How do we weigh how a group of people defines themselves against what is commonly accepted and recognizable? Should an encyclopedia actively work to change the language people use, or should it lean on what is most popular among the population it serves? Should it lead or should it follow?
Norway has historically been a relatively homogenous society. But as the composition of our society has changed, so has our language. Language related to ethnicity and identity has been much more complex in a pluralistic society like the United States. How have our different histories influenced our respective languages? And is the “homogenous Norway” only a myth?
Store norske leksikon gives you the opportunity to hear both Native American and Sámi perspectives on the debate that has been surrounding the encyclopedia over the last few weeks.
IN THE PANEL:
ANGELA BIBENS – Santee Dakota, lawyer and former ground coordinator for the Water Protector Legal Collective.
TIM MENTZ Sr – Pa Baksa (Cuthead) Dakota and Hunkpapa Lakota member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer documenting areas related to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.
MIKKEL BERG-NORDLIE, researcher at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA), focusing on minority policy and Sámi politics, sub-editor for Sámi history for Store norske leksikon.
BJØRN RAMBERG – professor of philosophy, Universitetet i Oslo (UiO).
ERIK BOLSTAD – editor-in-chief, Store norske leksikon.
STEPHANIE HOPE SMITH – sacred-cultural site conciliator and court-rostered neutral mediator at Standing Rock.
STIG ARILD PETTERSEN – editor and head of communications at Store norske leksikon.