Ethnic Sami face complaint over ‘Hard Joik Café’ brand

The Hard Rock Café chain has lodged a complaint against a Sami school after it registered the name Hard Joik Café with the Norwegian patent office.

Ethnic Sami face complaint over 'Hard Joik Café' brand
The Hard Rock Café in Los Angeles. Photo: Robyn Beck / AFP
A joik is a style of Sami singing associated with shamanistic religion, which is traditionally sung a capella and with few or no lyrics.
Lars Gunnar Marken, daily leader at Sørsamisk Kunnskapspark, the South Sami knowledge park, which teaches the South Sámi dialect to ethnic Sami people, said he could not understand why the US food and café chain saw the name as a threat.
“I find it hard to see how the Southern Sami, who number only 1,000 in Norway, and who have a language that is on the Unesco list of languages ​​that are about to die out, should be a threat to such a worldwide chain,” he told Norway's state broadcaster NRK
In its complaint to the Norwegian Patent Office, the US chain argued that the school was “free-riding” on the qualities associated with its brand. 
In a statement sent to the broadcaster, it said that the attempt to use Hard Joik Café constituted an “unreasonable exploitation of Hard Rock Café's reputation and distinctiveness as a global name”. 
It was therefore “free-riding on the brand's accumulated goodwill…built up through marketing campaigns and investments over 50 years”. 
Marken said that his school, which is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education, had registered the name hoping it would make learning the dialect more fun for students. 
“We want to renew ourselves. We have received some input from young people that they want a more modern framework in the dissemination of their own culture,” he said.
Knut Andreas Bostad, section chief in the Norwegian Patent Office, said that his section had judged that few people would have trouble separating Hard Joik Café from Hard Rock Café.
“We found that the brands could not be confused,” he said. 

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Swedish museum to return Sami remains to village

Uppsala's university museum is to return a Sami skeleton to ethnic Sami living in Arctic Lapland, following a campaign by the Sami parliament, Amnesty, and the Bishop of Luleå.

Swedish museum to return Sami remains to village

The skeleton came from a Sami from the village of Arjeplog in Sweden’s northernmost Norrbotten county, who was serving a life sentence at Stockholm’s Långholmen prison when he died. The skeleton had been on display at Gustavianum, Uppsala University’s Museum. 

“The government has today decided that Uppsala University should be able to return human remains, in the form of a mounted skeleton, to the Arjeplog Sami association,” the government said in a press release.

“The university’s request has been prompted by a request from the Arjeplog Sami association requesting the repatriation of the remains. Uppsala University has determined that Arjeplog’s Sami association has a legitimate claim on the remains and that the association will be able to ensure a dignified reception.” 

Sweden’s universities and museums have been gradually returning the Sami remains and artefacts collected in the 19th and early 20th century when research institutes such as Uppsala’s State Institute for Race Biology, sought to place Sami below ethnic Swedes through studying eugenics and human genetics. 

Lund University returned Sami remains earlier this year, and in 2019, the remains of more than 25 individuals were returned by Västerbotten Museum to Gammplatsen, an old Sami meeting place on the Umeå River in southern Lapland. 

Mikael Ahlund, chief of the Uppsala University Museum, said that the skeleton was one of “about 20 to 25” that the museum had been given responsibility for in about 2010, when the university’s medical faculty was clearing out its old collections, and had never been put on display. 

He said it was “a bit unclear how these remains were collected and how they were used”. 

“It’s a complex history at the end of the 19th century, with teaching anatomy. They also had a connection to the ideology of the period, the idea of races and the different anatomy of races, so that’s the dark shadow of that period.” 

In a press release last November, Margaretha Andersson, the head of Uppsala’s Museums, said that in 1892, when the man died, there was nothing strange about prisons donating the bodies of dead prisoners to university medical departments.

“In the old days, it was not unusual that the bodies from people who died in prison were passed to the university’s medical and research departments,” she said. 

Ahlund said that the museum had always been willing to return the skeleton to the Sami association, but that there had been bureaucratic hurdles to doing so. 

“What you need to know is that we are Swedish government institution, so we can’t just repatriate them as we would like ourselves, it needs to be a decision from the government, which is what happened today.” 

He said that the skeleton would be delivered to Arjeplog “as soon as possible”. “We expect it to happen early autumn, or something like that.”