Holding the Fire: Episode 3. Fighting Ecosystem Collapse with Aslak Holmberg

October 17, 2023

Indigenous peoples from around the world have been warning us, in some cases for millennia, that the extractivist mindset, that is now upending both ecosystems and communities of people, would end in collapse if it was not confronted and changed. 

It’s challenging to hear about collapsing ecosystems and the global climate spiraling out of balance, but by acknowledging this reality, we are able to orient ourselves and respond accordingly to the crises. 

On that note, I was excited to speak with Aslak Holmberg, an Indigenous Saami who lives on the Deatnu River, on the border of Norway and Finland. 


I think this is the clear result of an ideology that is, already from the start, doomed to fail. Because if you build something on unsustainability, then it will crash at one point, and we are at that point when ecosystems are crashing and the whole global climate is starting to collapse.

Our conversation covered impactful lawsuits the Saami people have won against a national government, Aslak’s stark assessment of the dominant global paradigm of constant growth, and, in the end, offers an inspirational message of standing firm in our work for the planet, no matter what.

About Aslak

Aslak Holmberg is an Indigenous Saami who lives on the Deatnu River, on the border of Norway and Finland. Aslak is serving as the President of the Saami Council and works on various processes dealing with Indigenous knowledge, rights, and biodiversity conservation. He is also a salmon fisher, teacher, and holds a masters degree in Indigenous studies. Aslak is also a former member of the Saami Parliament of Finland.

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq as well as The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption and (with Stan Rushworth) We Are the Middle of Forever: Indigenous Voices from Turtle Island on the Changing Earth (both from The New Press). He has won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism and the Izzy Award. He lives in Washington State in the USA.