Sámi Film Minifest

Sámi Film Mini Fest 2x4 blue (3)

A dream come true: the first Sámi film festival in Seattle. If you’re reading this, trust me, you do want to miss these films, some of which are enjoying their premiere, and others that have won awards on the festival circuit and are unlikely to be screened here again.

Of particular interest for history buffs is “Kaisa’s Enchanted Forest” with French, Skolt Sami, German, and English dialogue (all the films are subtitled in English). It’s a moving and skillfully woven tale of unlikely friendships and the plight of the Skolt Sámi.

The documentary “Me and My Little Sister”  follows two sisters, one straight, one gay, who go in search of acceptance in Finnish and Norwegian Sápmi as well as Canada, and discover the myriad ways people restrict and empower one another.

Another film offering insight into hidden Sámi identity is “Family Portrait,” which follows the filmmaker’s effort to reunite her family in Norway.

A variety of several short films will amuse, inform, and confound expectations. For fans of “Sámi Blood,” which won the Space Needle award at SIFF last year, don’t miss Amanda Kernell’s “I’ll Always Love you Kingan.”

Included in the day pass is a tour of the Sámi exhibits in the beautiful new museum. There will also be a panel discussion and happy hour, with food and drink available.

As the recently-elected president of the all-volunteer Pacific Sámi Searvi Board, I will be present with fellow boardmembers, enjoying the festival and recruiting new members. If you’re lucky you’ll walk away with one of these stickers for your laptop or car. See you there!

PSS pride flag (4)

Crossing Borders in 2018

Lavvu poster Facebook (3)My 19-year old, eminently more-qualified son and fellow boardmember Dalai introduced the Sámi film at the Nordic Lights Film Festival last weekend: the feature-length documentary Arctic Superstar about hiphop artist Nils-Rune Utsi aka “SlinCraze.” Dalai mentioned that his great-grandfather, who left Sápmi with his accordion at age 24, would be surprised to know that Sámi youth are proud of their culture and helping keep it alive not only through joik, but rap. (Surprised is an understatement. Grandpa must be rolling in his grave!)

This is the 9th year of the festival and the 6th year of films from Sápmi. It was in 2012, after a screening of Suddenly Sámi, that the Pacific Sámi Searvi was created after a few of us decided to keep meeting regularly. Fast forward six years, and we are screening the film again, this time in Canada at an event cosponsored by Burnaby’s Scandinavian Cultural Society. Several members of the Canadians of Sámi Ancestry Facebook page will join us, as well as Sámi professor Troy Storfjell and other scholars. I’ll give a brief talk about my ancestral trip to Sápmi.

Below is the flyer we distributed the film festival. Please join us if you’re able.PSS Upcoming Events Flyer (1)

Travels in Sápmi

Laura Ricketts (2)Having corresponded briefly by email, I can hardly wait to meet Laura Ricketts in October, first at the Nordic Knitting Conference, where she is teaching and giving the keynote, and then at the Swedish Club, where she’ll talk about her travels in Sápmi, hosted by Pacific Sámi Searvi (I’ve joined the board again). Laura is the author of the e-book Discover the Wonderful World of Sámi Knitting and has published about Sámi knitwear extensively (you can find several patterns on Ravelry, including my favorite: the Jokkmokk flowers). Faith Fjeld, the beloved Sámi-American who launched the journal BAIKI, said an article by Laura helped make the July 2013 issue one of the most popular. A history teacher who has lived in Siberia and Mongolia, Laura experiences and insights will engage even the non-knitters among us. So bring your mates and kids.

The event is free, so no tickets are needed, but as I’m bringing the refreshments, please reserve your seats so I can get a headcount. Thanks! Hope to see a lot of folks there.

 

Swing and Joik

I enjoyed this recent post by Mauri Kinnunen about a 1937 article in the Chicago Daily Tribune, in which joiking is compared to swing music, and cocktails prove disappointing to some Swedish Laestadians. It may be a stretch to compare joik to swing, but both are characterized by energy and improvisation.

Go read the article, then come back and enjoy these clips.

Instrumental “cocktail swing” recorded in Sweden in the same year as the article, 1937:

The amazing Marie Boine inhabits this spine-tingling “Goaskinviellja / Eagle Brother” at the Oslo Opera House in 2009:

Standing Rock

standingrocktriopicwithflagLast November, I traveled to Standing Rock with my son and a friend, bringing a letter of solidarity from Sámi-Americans and a station wagon stuffed with donated cold weather supplies. We planned to stay a week, make supply runs to Bismark, and help serve Thanksgiving Dinner in the camp, which had grown to 2,000 people (it would swell to 10,000 in December). My son and I would also make a side trip to East Rainy Butte, where my Swedish-Sàmi grandfather once ran a cattle ranch. The drive from Seattle to Cannonball was 19 hours through some of the most beautiful country on earth.

Letter of Solidarity (pdf)

At the entrance to Oceti Sakowin, two solemn young men serving as sentries asked if we were visiting or staying. When we explained our mission, they smiled and said warmly, “welcome home.”  A stately parade of flags snapped in the wind we entered camp, described as the largest gathering of Indigenous tribes ever recorded. Tears sprang to my eyes at the thought, and for the duration of our visit, would never be far away.

“Do you know the professor?” asked the sentry at the media tent, where anyone who wished to take photos had to apply for a pass. “He’s Sàmi.” To my surprise, not once did I need to explain the Sàmi at camp, thanks to Sara Gaup, Sofia Jannok and many others who had visited earlier. (Sámi advocacy would prove instrumental in persuading Norwegian and Swedish banks to divest from the pipeline.)

“Perhaps,” I said, wondering who the professor might be.

Inside the tent, in beautiful gakti and fur hat, was a man who smiled as he scanned our solidarity letter, recognizing some of the names. He introduced himself as Øyvind Ravna, a visiting law professor from Trømso. We saw each other again at the sacred fire a few times, but it was via Facebook that I learned Øyvind spent the awful night of November 20 on the bridge, documenting the abuse of peaceful water protectors via water cannons, teargas, and explosives — while I was holed up with my group at the nearby casino hotel, offering refuge, showers, and snacks to the injured.

One of the injured was a medic from Seattle named Victory, who consented to an interview by iPhone.

I encourage you to read Øyvind’s excellent first-hand account and legal analysis.

Water is Life Joik

Video

Enjoy this clip of Sámi singers from Norway: Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska, Beaska Niillas, Inger Biret Gaup, Sandra Márjá West, Áslat Holmberg, and Máret Áile Susanna Gaup Beaska. They stopped in Minneapolis for a concert while en route to Standing Rock in North Dakota to lend solidarity to the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Go to 1:14 for a “Water is Life” joik lesson.

Much thanks, ollu giitu, wopila tanka to Mavis Mantila for livestreaming the concert.