A Special Syttende Mai this Friday

Dr. Berg, Grand MarshalThere will be notable Sámi presence in Seattle’s Syttende Mai parade this Friday, with a Sámi scholar for a Grand Marshal, and first-time-ever participation by Pacific Sámi Searvi, representing Sámi descendants and culture in the Pacific Northwest.

This year’s Grand Marshal is Sámi scholar Bård Berg, who teaches history and philosophy at the University of Tromsø. Berg lived in Seattle for a year while he was a Fulbright scholar at University of Washington’s Department of Scandinavian Studies, doing research on the immigration of Sámi people to the Pacific Northwest.

Syttende Mai is the celebration of Norway’s Constitution, signed May 17, 1814. Norway’s Sámi Act of 1987 provided the legal basis for Sámi participation in the government, and in 1988, Article 110a officially ended assimilation policies, stating, “It is the responsibility of the authorities of the State to create conditions enabling the Sámi people to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life.” A year later, the first Sámi parliament convened in Norway, and in 1992, Norway passed the Sámi Language Act, making Sámi an official languages counties with large Sámi populations, namely five municipalities in Finnmark County and one municipality in Troms County. An estimated 20,000 Sami in Norway speak Sámi.

Throughout the day there are events to delight adults and children, including a luncheon at Leif Erickson Lodge, fjord horses at the Nordic Heritage Museum (where admission is free all day), and musical acts at Bergen Place. The parade, which starts at 6 pm, draws thousands of observers and includes over 100 marching bands, drill teams, community groups,  and classic cars.

Seattle’s Syttende Mai celebration is the third largest (behind Osoo and Bergen, Norway) and has been celebrated here since 1898, before Washington was even a state.

Check out the official site for more information.

Want to walk with us?  RSVP on Facebook or just look for the Sámi flag during check-in at Adams Elementary (28th and 62nd NW) and introduce yourself. The parade starts at 6 pm.

Think sun, for children of the sun.

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