The Saami Council, a non-governmental organization representing the Sami people of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, is calling on Square Enix to remove the Far Northern Attire DLC from Final Fantasy 14. The council’s concern is “not about sensitivity or whether the depiction is appropriate,” she said in a statement (opens in new tab)but rather that the items depicted in the DLC are “Sami’s cultural property” and infringe on her rights.
“Our cultural property rights are not theoretical,” Sami Council president Ashlat Holberg said in a statement. “They are protected and protected under copyright laws, which are generally harmonized around the world. Square Enix, as a media company, is very aware of copyright laws and has no excuse for this blatant violation of cultural property of the Sami.”
The council said Sami clothing is not just an aesthetic, but carries “specific elements of Sami identity with meaning, content and context”. Its inclusion in the game without permission or acknowledgment allows millions of FF14 players to “dress up as Sami people, dress in Sami identity without our consent and contribute to the erosion of our culture”.
This is not the first time that the Saami Council has called for the protection of the cultural heritage and rights of its people. Holberg said the council’s position “has been made very clear in the past” and noted the 2019 agreement (opens in new tab) with Walt Disney Animation Studios, with which Disney faced allegations of cultural appropriation (opens in new tab) after using a Sami choral song in the first Frozen movie, in which Disney:
- Agreed to work with the Sámi to create a dubbed version of Frozen 2 in the Sámi language
- He thanked the Samians for their cooperation and cooperation in the Frozen 2 credits
- It employed an expert advisory group to ensure Frozen 2’s Sami-inspired content is “culturally sensitive, appropriate and respectful of the Sami and their culture
- Sammy representatives invited to the world premiere of Frozen 2 in the USA
- He agreed to “pursue cross-learning opportunities” with the Sami people and to “make contributions back to Sami society”.
Square Enix, by contrast, “did not even consider the rights of the Sami people in relation to this product,” the board said.
Holberg did not say what, if any, action the council plans to take if Square Enix doesn’t comply with its request, only that he “hopes this situation will advance the discussion about the rights of indigenous peoples to cultural property and the appearance them to proceed to a productive dialogue with all sectors”.
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This isn’t the first time Square Enix has faced controversy over Final Fantasy 14’s costumes. In 2019, it faced criticism for adding a costume that was styled after a type of dress imposed on Koreans during the Japanese occupation of the country, which ran from 1910 to 1945. However, this criticism was somewhat more muted because the suit was only released in China.
I’ve reached out to Square Enix for comment on the Saami Council requirement and will update if I hear back. Currently Far Northern Attire Pack $18 (opens in new tab) remains available for purchase in the Final Fantasy 14 online store.