The Saami Council has demanded Square Enix remove the Far Northern Attire from Final Fantasy 14 due to the use of cultural property and an infringement of rights.
The Far Northern Attire is an in-game costume consisting of headpiece, tunic, gloves, bottoms and boots, available to purchase in the game’s online store for £11.16.
However, the Saami Council has claimed the outfit uses the cultural property of the Sámi – a group of indigenous people from parts of northern Scandinavia.
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The council has written a letter to Square Enix demanding removal of the attire from the game, which it has shared with Eurogamer.
“This is not about sensitivity or whether the depiction is appropriate. These elements are Sámi cultural property and Square Enix has infringed on our rights,” said president of The Saami Council, Áslat Holmberg.
“Our cultural property rights are not theoretical. They are protected and protectable under intellectual property laws, which are generally harmonised throughout the world. Square Enix, as a media company, is highly aware of intellectual property laws and has no excuse for this blatant violation of Sámi cultural property.”
The council states that its clothing traditions are not just aesthetic, but carry “the significance of being specific elements of Sámi identity with meaning, content, and context”. As such, its apparent use in the Final Fantasy 14 outfit contributes to “the erosion of [its] culture”.
The council already has an agreement in place with Walt Disney Animation Studios, due to the use of Sámi culture in Frozen 2.
The statement from the Saami Council claims that while the games industry is more open to “the needs of non-majority gamers, specifically in terms of alternative lifestyles, gender identities, and support of women gamers, the Saami Council is disappointed that Square Enix did not even lightly consider the rights of the Sámi people in relation to this product”.
“The Saami Council hopes that this situation will advance the discussion of the rights of indigenous people to their cultural properties and looks forward to a productive dialogue with all industries,” said Holmberg.
Eurogamer has contacted Square Enix for comment.