Experiencing and Safeguarding the Sacred in the Arctic: Sacred Natural Sites, Cultural Landscapes and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
Culturally and spiritually important landscapes across the Arctic region express this interconnectedness of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) with the natural and spiritual environment, and their preservation has been, and continues to be, essential to IPs’ identity and livelihoods. It is a common place to say that the lands are regarded as sacred by many traditional worldviews of indigenous peoples. However, these living landscapes contain also particular individual sites, or Sacred Natural Sites (SNSs), which are associated with strong spiritual, or cultural intangible values of the natural elements. As Schama (1995: 6–7) has noted: “Landscapes are culture, before they are nature; constructs of the imagination projected onto wood, water and rock”. Consequently, culturally and spiritually important landscapes and the SNSs they encompass are at the interface between nature and culture, tangible and intangible values, biological and cultural diversity, and embody a closely woven net of connectedness between culture and nature and people’s identity (Rössler 2006).
KeywordsSacred natural sites Arctic Cultural landscapes Indigenous rights Human rights
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