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 overall goal for the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples (WGIP) in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region is to secure indigenous peoples’ rights, foundation for trade, society, culture and language through the implementation of the Action Plan of Indigenous Peoples of the BEAR.
The indigenous peoples’ cooperation shall contribute to friendship and cooperation based on equality, co-existence and tolerance between the peoples of the region. In the light of Nenets, Sami and Veps’ status as indigenous peoples of the north, the cooperation shall secure solid health and living conditions, as well as cultural continuity in the future.
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 Euro-Arctic 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 Barents Euro-Arctic Council. The WGIP also has a representative in the Regional Council, the Regional Committee and in the relevant Barents Working Groups.
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.