At the core of Indigenous Studies at UH there is a holistic understanding of the world, which we acknowledge and celebrate by studying present social dynamics and by offering new perspectives to comprehend historical continuities and power structures. It gives an opportunity to broaden the knowledge of Indigenous peoples in a global approach. Our work is carried out in close collaboration with Indigenous societies and communities, which despite differences often share similar experiences of colonisation and long-standing relational entanglements with the land. Many Indigenous peoples inhabit regions where the natural environment is rich in diversity, actively contributing to it. Their detailed knowledge, accumulated for generations, is of particular importance when discussing economic changes in these regions, such as in the Arctic and Amazon. Indigenous peoples’ knowledges are materialised in their livelihoods, land uses, arts, and languages. Indigenous languages comprise a majority of all the languages in the world, yet they are the most endangered of all languages. Globally, Indigenous Studies has paved the way for a study of Indigenous histories, presents, and future aspirations from the Indigenous perspectives, as well as enhancing dialogues between multiple actors from academia and civil society.
Indigenous studies programme started in 2015 at the Faculty of Arts. Having a foundation in Sámi Studies, which in 1993 was founded at the University of Helsinki, Indigenous Studies takes a more global perspective. Sámi languages and cultures were studied at the University of Helsinki already in the 19th century as part of Finno-Ugrian language studies.