Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region

Out of a total population in the Barents Region of approximately 5,3 million people, there are around 85 000 Sami inhabitants in Sápmi, the traditional area of the Sami people. 50-60 000 of those are living in Norway, some 20 000 in Sweden, some 7 000 in Finland and around 2 000 in Murmansk Oblast in Russia. In the Russian Nenets Autonomous Okrug there are 7 000 Nenets people. Approximately 6 000 Vepsians are living in the Republic of Karelia. These peoples are represented in the working group established by the Regional Council. The Komi people are represented by the representative of the Russian Republic of Komi.

Working Group of Indigenous Peoples

The cooperation between the indigenous peoples within the Barents Regional Council was initiated already in 1993. The Working Group of Indigenous Peoples  (WGIP) was established on a permanent basis by the Regional Council in 1995.

The WGIP consists of representatives of the Sami, the Nenets and the Vepsian peoples. The group is distinguished from other regional working groups by the fact that, in addition to its operational role as a working group, it also has an advisory role to both the Barents Council (foreign ministers) and the Regional Council (county governors). The Chair of the WGIP represents the indigenous peoples of the Region at the ministerial meetings of the BEAC. The WGIP also has a representative in the Regional Council and the Regional Committee.

The Barents Indigenous Peoples Office (BIPO)

The aim of the BIPO is to maintain contacts, develop relations and stimulate participation of the Murmansk region, Karelian and Nenets indigenous institutions and peoples in the Barents cooperation. The Office was established in Murmansk in October 2003 and is run by Tatiana Egorova. 


  • Barents Regional Council: Aili Keskitalo
  • BEAC Working Group on Environment: Anna Prakhova
  • Joint Working Group on Youth: Nadezhda Laptander
  • Steering Committee on Children and Youth at Risk (CYAR): Jenni Leiti
  • Joint Working Group on Culture: Matrena Taleeva
  • Joint Working Group on Health and Social Related Issues: Galina Arteeva

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