Indigenous Traces

Indigenous Traces

Indigenous traces is an international residency program for indigenous artists within visual arts, performing arts, music, literature, storytelling and crafts. The emphasis is put on contemporary arts. A characteristic for many indigenous artists is how their artistic practice is rooted to their peoples’ traditions, identity and history. We are establishing the residency program in the intersections between traditions and contemporary in which artists are given opportunity to explore directions and balance.

There’s a commonality between indigenous people around the world, which has sprung from traditions and the ability of artistic expressions, which the residency program aims to bring forth. The culture of indigenous people has systematically been stigmatized and submitted to the culture of the dominant majority. Hidden, in their private sphere, traditions and memories has been kept through x singing, the crafts and rituals, shared over generations. The artistic practice is simultaneously an act of resistance and preservation of a culture.

There are few public forums supporting or presenting indigenous artists, whose practice deals with their identity and origin, x where they can develop an approach in their artistry which embraces their context and sustains their profession. Indigenous artists are found all around the world. Our residency program, Indigenous Traces, concentrates on indigenous people around the arctic circle where exchange has been established for decades.

The association Sjungaregården, together with the artist Tomas Colbengtson and TYP Kulturkapital, have initiated Indigenous Traces. The idea was to strengthen Sami culture in Granö through the residency program. Indigenous Traces wishes to strengthen the Sami art and culture scene, starting with the county Västerbotten and moving on all over Sápmi. Indigenous traces is made possible through a grant from Kulturbryggan.


Read our brochure (only in swedish)
Download map with the placements of the artworks

Future events

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Indigenous, the word refers to a group of people who were the first inhabitant, and still are, in some of the most remote environments in the world. Land and nature that they have cultivated under centuries of colonialization.

Why is there a need of a residency program for indigenous artists?

In my home area, Tärna, at the area of Umeälven spring, five villages were flooded in the 1950’s-1960’s. Both the living and the dead, even cemeteries, was submerged.

Obviously, when the self is bereft of land, water, way of life, language, religion, becoming racially profiled as lower status and having attire and song (jojk) denounced. And on top of that being placed under a guardian, Lappfogden, who intervenes in livelihoods and decide who is allowed or not allowed to work with reindeer herding. And the priests of the churches, deciding where one belongs and gives family names by its own discretion

Obviously, the self and its dignity are crippled.

In 1971, the county, who’s leadership is democratically elected, took over the authority of Lappfogden. The same is system applied although new entity acts.

The region north of the polar circle is infamously named the Vodka belt. An addiction explained as a genetic defect in the people from the region while the real cause is the abuse of power by the state on its own people

And, when even family and kin believe that it belongs to an inferior people, or race, that its own culture is repugnant and shameful, the effort to raise once voice becomes invincible.

That is why we need a residency for indigenous artists.

In this context, it only becomes natural that a residency is formed and organized with indigenous artists as its leaders. And the principle for the residency is that the artistic ingenuity and visions of the indigenous is at the heart of carrying it forward.

Tomas Colbengtson
Artistic director


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