The Power of Joik

This video was posted today on Facebook, and despite my inability to understand the Swedish in it, the joik (at 2:40) knocked me out with its emotional power. This guy clearly has talent. He also has a cultural identity that should make the most hardcore essentialist reconsider what it means to be Sàmi. The comments below the post include:

Jon Henrik Fjällgren on Sweden’s Got Talent joiking his friend Daniel, who died four years ago.

Fjellgren, who is 26 years old, was told since his youth that he came from a small indigenous tribe in Columbia . . . he was adopted by a Sàmi family and has since grown up in Mittådalsfjällen. As a little boy he helped his father with the reindeer and as soon as he left school, he has worked actively as a reindeer herder.

In another version on Youtube, a poem is included:

Are you still walking with me, my dear friend,
Though I no longer see you?
Are you still here on earth,
As you are still in my heart?
I continue to lie here and brood,
It is desolately quiet around me.
Tears burst out and fall,
In memory of you.

An angel that was forgotten here,
Has now received his wings.
Where are you flying to now, my angel?
Where are you flying to now?

Are you flying through the pearly gates?
Or to the ends of the earth?
Are you flying beside me?
Or am I alone now?

Wherever are you now, my friend.
Wherever the road leads you.
Promise me you’ll wait there,
Until I meet you.

I hope you’re happy now.
As I was with you.
And the pain you have suffered,
I hope is forgotten.

Float freely, my dear friend.
You are free now.
And until we meet again,
Farewell, my angel.

The joik is a unique form of cultural expression for the Sàmi people in Sápmi. This type of song can be deeply personal or spiritual in nature, often dedicated to a human being, an animal, or a landscape as a personal signature. Improvisation is not unusual. Each joik is meant to reflect a person or place. The Sàmi verb for presenting a joik is a transitive verb, which is often interpreted as indicating that a joik is not a song about the person or place, but that the joiker is attempting to evoke or depict that person or place through song – one joiks their friend, not about their friend (similarly to how one doesn’t paint or depict about a flower, but depicts the flower itself). –Wikipedia

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2 thoughts on “The Power of Joik

  1. The first time I heard this joik tears started pouring out. I don’t understand any Sami so I had no idea the words. And the version I saw did not include information that it was about his friend Daniel. All I can sum it up to was that it was somehow reaching back and activating ancestral memory. What a powerful experience.

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