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 communities, which despite differences often share experiences of colonisation and long-standing relational entanglements with the environment. Many Indigenous peoples inhabit regions where the natural environment is rich in diversity. Their detailed knowledge, accumulated throughout generations, is of particular importance when discussing changes in these regions, such as the Arctic and Amazon. Indigenous peoples’ knowledge is materialised in their livelihoods, land uses, and arts. Indigenous languages comprise approximately 80% of all the languages in the world, yet they are the most endangered of all languages. Globally, Indigenous Studies has paved the way for Indigenous communities’ points of view, histories, and future aspirations from the Indigenous perspectives, as well as enhancing dialogues between among multiple actors from academia and civil society.
Indigenous studies program 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 and general view to epistemic differences. Sámi languages and cultures were the focus of research at the University of Helsinki already in the 19th century as part of Finno-Ugrian language studies.