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.

 

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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.

 

Sofia Jannok and Sámi Solidarity

I’m honored to publish this guest post by my cousin Linsey, whose big heart shines through her writing. We met earlier this year through a DNA match, and I was able to share the suppressed history of our immigrant forebears in Swedish Lapland, whose suffering and resiliency gave rise to our own lives. I hope you’ll read to the end, and leave a comment. — Julie

Guest post written by Linsey Schad with photos by Jeff Schad Imagery

Earlier this summer I had the most amazing pleasure of seeing Sámi artist and musician Sofia Jannok speak and perform while she was here in Minnesota. To say that it was an incredible experience cuts it short. To say that it was eye-opening and emotionally charged is getting a little bit closer. To say that it was a crazy-intense-spiritual reawakening? Well, that hits the nail square on the head! It was absolutely inspiring to see a woman today so fully living her essence and purpose in the stewardship of her people, her land, its resources, and herself. She is a protector of our Mother Earth. We need more people like her.

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I went into the three days with Sofia wanting to connect more to my own Sámi roots and ancestry. The first event I attended was a panel discussion on Indigenous issues at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she was this year’s Artist in Residence. Going in, I was familiar with how the Sámi people have been treated throughout history, but as I listened and learned, I found myself increasingly aware of just how much injustice is actually taking place TODAY, and what the Sámi people are dealing with right now, as we speak, where our ancestors came from. My heart still hurts remembering Sofia say in tears that she just wants to live and to know her people will remain, not to have to raise her fist to fight, or even to have to take part in panels, but to just be allowed to live free the way she and her people know is right for them. She spoke not about the past but about vandalism, mistreatment, and many suicides that are occurring RIGHT NOW.

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Photo credit: Jeff Schad Imagery

 

“Everything is told as if we were not here. My mission, my purpose, my message as an artist is not to cry over lost times, lost land, and lost rights but getting everyone to get it: we are still here!” Sofia Jannok

The next two nights were absolutely magical seeing Sofia perform, first at Gustavus and then at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Words cannot describe the pure energy and emotion that comes through her music. It was more than music; it was a meditation, a prayer, and a healing balm for my soul. I can only hope that it was this powerful for others. Hearing it live was like hearing the Earth herself sing! Regardless of language, the feelings and energy that comes through are universal. I was also struck by the integrity Sofia displayed in choosing to share the concert at Gustavus with Lyz Jaakola, an Ojibwe-Anishinaabe musician, expressing the importance for the local Indigenous voice to be heard too. This was such an exemplary, selfless action, and all too rare in a world where no one wants to share the spotlight. She fully embodies what a role model today should be. How we all should be.

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After the magnitude of these events settled in and I began to write this blog post, I felt that just relaying my own experience was not enough. The seriousness of the Sámi peoples current issues hit me hard and I began researching. I reached out to Sofia with some questions and she kindly responded. The main question: how can those of us here who find out we have Sámi ancestry, actively give help to the Sámi people living today? Here is what I learned (naturally these are my personal reactions to information received from Sofia).

  • There is a HUGE lack of knowledge about the Sámi. The children are not taught about them, the universities don’t speak of them, and most of the population know very little about them. The dominant powers there have singled them out to be exploitatively erased because of a need for their resources and their land and because of this their story is seldom told. When there is no open knowledge about a culture it breeds racism. I have been shocked to see this blatant racism portrayed in contemporary fiction from the region and I can only imagine this representation is close to the truth. It’s sad to find such a dark side to Sweden, considering it’s supposed to be the most democratic nation in the world.
  • The Sámi people are not being honored respectfully and equally. Racism and systematic oppression set the stage for objectification and exoticification. As this happens a detrimental loop of exploitation begins and the sacred pieces of Sámi culture, their clothing, jewelry, music, buildings, and traditions have been hijacked and turned into commodities. They have been stolen for tourism or novelty and are used rather than revered. For centuries the Sámi have been made to be “tourist attractions” and Sofia explained that this is still very much reality today. True honoring of a culture comes not from a place of ego or economy but from genuine humanistic compassion. Instead of using their clothing or customs, we can learn their real story, who they are and ask them in what ways they’d like to be honored.
  • The politics and mining are destroying the land forever. Due to the rich resources Sápmi contains and the large amounts of money they translates into, the mining industry is allowed to continue expanding and destroying the beautiful native grazing lands forever. I was amazed to learn that the entire town of Kiruna is moving in order to accommodate the mines expansion there. This is an area the Sámi have all ready been forced to move away from for generations and the same company has two more mines planned in the near area. Another is planned for Laver and the Sámi community there is asking for help. Recently a wind power park opened up making the grazing land there inaccessible. Across the entire region these things are happening and this is all done despite protesting and without their permission. The dominant powers are methodically destroying their land for money and disallowing this ancient culture from continuing it’s way of life. In my reality, that constitutes a crime against humanity and a rape of our beautiful planet. This is everyone’s problem.
  • The Sámi people need to be able to share their point of view. Just like here in the US, the media is skewed in Sweden and fails to give appropriate voice to the region’s indigenous population. Sofia expressed that social media and music are ways for her to get the untold story out, completely uncensored. She shared some websites that are also working to operate from a true Sámi perspective:

www.samer.se
www.sr.se/sameradion
www.saminuorra.org
 www.sametinget.se

We can follow and support Sofia Jannok and her Árvas Foundation: www.sofiajannok.com facebook.com/sofiajannok
www.youtube.com/user/sofiajannok
www.instagram.com/sofiajannok
www.arvasfoundation.com

And follow amazing photography and stories from:
www.instagram.com/cjutsi
www.instagram.com/annamariafjellstrom

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So, how does this translate for us North Americans with Sàmi heritage ? I’m not exactly sure yet but there are many ways we can act, both collectively as a community and individually. Armed with knowledge, we can effectively shape how we honor, relate to, and relay the story of our ancestors while finding ways to lend support in protecting the land, way of life and culture. Maybe we can assist those who are finding ways to bring Sámi art and music here. Maybe we can search for new methods to get their stories out and told in a true way so they are no longer the only ones to carry it. We can follow and support Sámi people online and positively connect through direct interactions. We can work to help our planet Earth, the environment, the endangered Arctic region, and climate change in general. We can learn about and help our local Indigenous communities, remembering just how we came to occupy this land. We can teach our children to actively listen to others and with empathy.

If we REALLY put ourselves in another’s shoes, trying to understand them not from our own perspective but from THEIRS, only compassion and love can remain. All of these things will help.

What do you think?

— Linsey

Celebrate Sámi Day

Celebrated every February 6 since 1993, Sámi National Day (Sámi Álbmotbeaivi) commemorates the first international, pan-Sámi organizational meeting held in Trondheim in 1917, considered the beginning of the Sámi rights movement.

It will be celebrated locally from 4 pm to 8 pm this coming Thursday at Pacific Lutheran University’s Scandinavian Cultural Center in Tacoma. (See link for directions.)

Sámi National Day (Sámi Álbmotbeaivi)
Thursday, February 6, 2014

Scandinavian Cultural Center, PLU, Tacoma

4 pm Opening and Anthem
4:30 pm Exhibit Tour
5 pm Concert by Risten Anine Gaup
6:15 pm Sámi Documentaries

The celebration will open with welcoming remarks and the singing of the Sámi national anthem, followed by a guided tour of the new Sámi exhibit and time for refreshments and socializing. The talented Sámi joiker Risten Anine Gaup (above) will perform around 5 p.m. Two short documentaries will be screened beginning around 6:15 pm, followed by a short discussion.

Props to PLU professor Troy Storfjell and the Scandinavian Cultural Center for arranging the celebration. I plan to be there and hope it is well-attended!

Here is a taste of Sámi music and art for those unable to attend. For many outside Scandinavia, their first time hearing joik, the long suppressed folk music of the Sami, was when Nils-Aslak Valkeapää (1943-2001) performed at the 1994 Lilyhammer Olympics. His friend the Sámi scholar Harald Gaski said “it is in the totality of his expression that you understand Nils-Aslak best.” Listen to his haunting joik from “The Sun, My Father” here as you contemplate the paintings below.

In describing Valkeapää’s poetry (the man was a creative force!), Gaski mentions parallels to Chief Seattle’s apocryphal but famous speech of 1854 in which he asks rhetorically: “How can you sell or buy the air? If we do not own its freshness and the glimmer in the water, how then can the White man buy it from us?”

It’s a question that haunts, given the continued ravaging of resources in the name of profit, in Sapmi and everywhere. But there is hope. The indigenous worldview or cosmology that prioritizes beauty, balance, and harmony over individualism, competition, and materialism never went away and still offers a future on this planet. I love the abstract tension in these two paintings by Valkeapää and the way they suggest both the power of nature and lightness in which the people and animals appear on the land.

Lihkku Sámi Álbmotbeivviin (Happy Sámi National Day!), wherever you find yourself.

Longish Thoughts on Sámi Shorts

Lloyd Binder’s reindeer. Photo from Canadian Reindeer.

When Stina Cowan of the Nordic Heritage Museum asked if I would introduce the Sámi short films at SIFF’s 2014 Nordic Lights Film Festival, I didn’t hesitate. Two years ago, it was a SIFF screening of the documentary Suddenly Sámi that seeded the formation of Pacific Sámi Searvi and my personal journey of discovery. Since that time, there have been significant events for Sámi culture in our region, including a large duodji exhibit bringing artifacts and lecturers from the Ajtte Museum, the first local celebration of Sámi Day at Tacoma’s PLU, the first Sámi Grand Marshal and Sámi flag in Ballard’s Syttende Mai parade, the first “official” Sámi-American participation in Astoria’s Scandinavian Festival, and the first English translation of Emilie Demant-Hatt’s “With the Lapps in the High Mountains,” by local author and translator Barbara Sjoholm. Searvi members also rallied on behalf of Idle No More and Gallok.

It was exciting enough to have four Sámi-related films at SIFF; I did not expect a personal connection. Imagine my surprise on learning that the reindeer in Tundra Cowboy are my DNA cousin Lloyd Binder’s. While I haven’t met him in person (FamilyTreeDNA linked us), he was kind enough to answer my questions when I contacted him online.

Both Lloyd and his reindeer are descendants of the Yukon Relief Expedition of 1898, which brought Sámi herders and reindeer from Sápmi through Seattle up to Alaska. His maternal grandfather Mikkel Pulk joined the expedition in its second year, and in the 1930s, Mikkel and his wife Anna were recruited by the Canadian government to teach herding to the Inuits. The Pulks remained as herders for over 30 years. Their daughter Ellen, married Lloyd’s father, Otto, an Inuvialuit from Coppermine, N.W.T., now known as Kugluktuk (Otto also owned a herd for several years in the 1940s). Lloyd earned an economics degree from the University of Calgary and served as director of economic development and tourism for the Inuvik region before turning to herding. It’s in his blood.

Like his employee Henrik Seva (the subject of Tundra Cowboy), Lloyd is a man of dry wit. When I asked how he keeps the reindeer from mixing with the indigenous caribou, he responded: “vigilance.”

It is possible that I am also related to Henrik, as he and my grandfather were both born in Pajala Municipality in northern Sweden. The Sámi gene pool is small, even though, like the offspring of the Yukon Relief Expedition, it is dispersed over vast distances.

On the morning of the screening, the sun painted the sky pink and gold, and I feared that few people would show up for a Saturday matinee. SIFF attracts devoted cinephiles, but in Seattle, a rain-free January weekend must be taken seriously. There was standing room only in the theater, however; the shorts had a large and very appreciative audience.

Marja Bål Nango in Halvt ditt og halvt datt (Half of This, Half of That)

Of the three student works by Sámi filmmaker Marja Bål Nango, Halvt ditt og halvt datt (Half of This, Half of That) initially concerned me for its apparent equivalency (using a split screen) of a Sami gakti with a Norwegian bunad, both of which Nango is shown putting on and taking off. I wanted to protest: they aren’t the same! (e.g., the gakti is everyday wear while the bunad is a costume, for special occasions). Nango no doubt intended to provoke that response, as she deftly segués to more complex issues of self-identity. With a stark white background and tight focus on their youthful faces, she interviews several peers about self-identity, and you can watch their emotions shift as they struggle for words. It is powerfully intimate. While it features Norwegian citizens, the film has universal scope; asking if language is essential to identity and what it means to be “half of this, half of that” or “part” anything. I found myself thinking several times of the exhibit about race at the Pacific Science Center. This short would make an excellent addition to it.

Scene from Juletrollet

Nango’s second film, Juletrollet (The Christmas Troll), depicts a Sàmi girl envious of her Norwegian playmate’s Christmas tree. The playmate is curious about Sàmi customs, but whether her questions are benign or condescending isn’t clear. Verging on melodrama, the story is redeemed by a final scene in which the friends perch outside in the dark, singing to the stars. Nango’s characters finds serenity in a holiday that promises more than it delivers.

Still from “Before She Came, After He Left”

My favorite of her three shorts, Før Hun Kom, Etter Han Dro (Before She Came and After He Left), was filmed in an impossibly beautiful fjord. The winter chill is palpable; noses drip, boots crunch. After the tragic death of a boyhood friend (who may have also been a lover), a young father is tormented by grief, and his fiance is confused and concerned. Inner landscapes are revealed in flashbacks and small gestures, and the visual lyricism carries multiple layers of meaning, like the work of Akiri Kurosawa. I hope it gets a wide audience. (Check out Nango’s most recent collaboration, Indestructible.)

Amazing flying machine from “Tundra Cowboy”

With a faster pace and frank documentary style, Tundra Cowboy saturates each of its 18 minutes; the story of Henrik Seva unfolds energetically and economically. The blood and guts of reindeer slaughter are candid without becoming grotesque, the wide pans of the reindeer are thrilling but stop short of cliché, and a convivial springtime calf-marking in Sweden provides nuanced and colorful contrast to Henrik’s monochromatic, solitary life on the tundra. The heart of this story is Henrik’s motivations, which are rooted in loss and quietly heartbreaking. One of my favorite moments is when the camera rests on Henrik’s face as he stops speaking, and then stays there, allowing the viewer to meet him in the still space he treasures. A thoroughly enjoyable, multi-dimensional film. (The 18-minute short is available to rent or buy here.)

After the screening, several audience members approached with questions about the Sàmi, the shorts, and the searvi. As there was no time for a Q&A session (the theater needed to be cleared for the next film), I promised to write this post and include links as well notes from my phone conversation with Tundra Cowboy’s producer and director, Marc Winkler. If I am able to chat with Marja Bål Nango, I’ll post again.

Marc is a Canadian journalist for CBC who lives in Yellowknife, N.W.T. with his wife and two daughters. Tundra Cowboy is his first documentary. Prior to meeting Henrik Seva in Inuvik in 2002, he had never heard of the Sàmi.

Left to right: Cinematographer Luke Eberl, Henrik Seva, Director Marc Winkler

What inspired you to make the movie?

My fascination with living in isolation like that, and knowing Henrik. He seemed like such a grounded person and I thought it might have something to do with having so much time for his thoughts. I wanted to talk to him about that. Although he uses a lot of technology, his pace, his everyday life is very different.

Do you think his groundedness is due to that?

Slightly. He does have a lot of time to mull over things, and time to explore his relationship with his reindeer. That is what he loves, caring for reindeer; I found that connection fascinating. He sings to the reindeer — and there are all these Sami traditions (connected to herding). The fact that he would travel all the way to Canada to maintain that connection . . . that says something! His grandfather, a herder, is his hero. He found a way to recreate his grandfather’s connection to reindeer.

Doesn’t he get lonely?

Sometimes he wants to see people and he does go to the town every 10 days for “R & R.” He was recently married, since the filming. He’s not a hermit!

How was it to film there?

It was really cold, minus 40 outside, with huge winds all the time. The camera batteries kept freezing. But it was beautiful! The tundra is a magical place and so peaceful. Henrik was patient with us, although he was busy herding. We were glad he took so much time.

Did he joik for you?

Yes, it was a very important thing for him to do. He was pretty shy about it, but he gave us the little example in the movie. For me it illustrates the beautiful connection he has with the reindeer. It is a love song, and it has the practical benefit of making the reindeer used to his voice.

What was left on the cutting room floor that you wish you could have included?

So much! The film was as long as an hour, and I got it down to 18 minutes. I wanted it to be subtle and focused. There are so many other elements that I tried to puzzle in there, such as the way colonization affected the Sami culture. Like the residential schools here (in Canada), there were government schools in northern Sweden. Henrik was sent to one, and he was punished for speaking Sami. He was not allowed to eat the food he was accustomed to. Reindeer herders were looked own on. He underwent ten years of assimilation, and it was a struggle for him; he felt divided over who he was and whether his culture was worthy or not. It is such a worthwhile project to explore . . . but that is another movie.

Also, the whole land and environment issues in Northern Sweden, the forestry and mining projects that are pushing herding into smaller and smaller places. If things keep going like this, it will not be a viable livelihood. In the 1920’s, the government was going to take away their rights to hunt, fish, and herd. Henrik’s grandfather made a deal with the king that they would herd but not fish and hunt. Others could fish and hunt, but not herd. So not all Sami are treated equally.

What are you working on now?

I just had a new daughter so I’m taking a break right now, but some any ideas have come up from doing this. Many different ideas, but nothing solid yet.

Marc and I talked a while longer about the Sàmi and the environmental issues that threaten reindeer herding — forestry, mining, and mineral extraction. I hope his success with this first documentary inspires many more.

Dressing In and Out

stoorstalkaUpdate: The exhibit will now travel to the Swedish-American Museum in Chicago, opening in January, 2014.

As luck would have it, I didn’t make it to see Dressing Swedish: From to Hazelius to Salander, the traveling exhibition from the Swedish Embassy in DC, until the final day (final hour, even) of its stay in Seattle. Which is too bad, as it was more interesting and diverse than I expected, and thoughtfully presented. Kudos to the curators, Dr. Charlotte Hylten-Cavallius and Lizette Graden of the Nordic Heritage Museum, and to the Multicultural Society of Tumba, Sweden, which supported the project.

Included among the many gorgeous Swedish folk costumes was one with a “Muslim” headscarf and several Sami items, including a child’s gakti from Karesuando and a modern outfit from Stoorstalka (“design by Samis for Sami people, and equally cool souls”).

It is interesting to muse on the fact that, while many cultures (in warm climates) have gone without clothing, none have gone without decoration. Tattoos and body piercings are older than the loom, and jewelry is universal. It is fascinating to explore the history of artistic expression in clothing.

In curious contrast to the intricate embroidery and colors in the exhibit, my own inherited Swedish-Sami subculture of Laestadianism is ascetic, shunning self-adornment and art itself. Its founder Lars Levi Laestadius, a botanist turned priest and then revivalist, encouraged his followers to dress modestly, and over time, this was codified into nuanced prohibitions on jewelry, neckties, cosmetics, open-toed shoes, and even the color red. In some Laestadian circles, women and girls still wear head scarves. Many clues to the class, marital status, and personality of the individual are telegraphed through clothing choices.

Torjer Olsen, research fellow in History of Religion at the University of Tromsø suggests that the use of clothes as symbols may be particularly important for groups like the Laestadian communities, where it is difficult for women to communicate verbally because they are considered to be subordinate and not allowed to speak in public.

The skirt remains a gender specific garment heavy with symbolism. Olsen claims that the girls’ skirts, especially short ones, are a play with symbols. With skirts they can both dress “in” (as part of the congregation) and “out” (in line with the majority society). This way the girls communicate both their loyalty to and distance from the congregation.”

I mused on this as I admired the Stoorstalka “party skirt” (top photo), which borrows from tradional Sami gakti, but being made of synthetic fabric instead of wool or silk, is washable and less expensive. Being neither too short nor too long, I can imagine a trendy Laestadian wearing it (and a rebellious one rolling up the waistband to make it shorter). There is a ruffle of tulle peeking out underneath, though. That could get a girl in trouble with the standards enforcers.

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Some of the displays came with artist statements.

Fia Kaddik, Photographer and craftswoman, Jokkmokk.
This bag symbolizes the threat to our mountain areas . . . the red ribbon in the middle represents Mother Earth, who is beginning to burn herself out as a result of all the mining that is taking place in our mountain areas.

Lena Viltok, Craftswoman and designer, Jokkmokk
In addition to being decorative, the silver also reflects Sami folklore about silver protecting against evil. In the olden days, the evil could be Stallu (the Giant) or other evil forces that wanted to destroy the Sami. Today the evil forces are all the exploitative developments that reduce the reindeer pasturelands and make it increasingly impossible for us to live our lives. This is happening to me now with the mineral prospecting that is taking place in the area where the reindeer graze and breed, and where our son must find his future livelihood. But we struggle on and hope that the silver will protect us. This is why I have called the bag “lellet” (to live).

Way to represent, Fia and Lena. I found myself wanting to touch your duodji in solidarity, but it was suspended in a bowl above grasping hands. Probably a good thing.

snusmarkIn the next room was a display case with three pairs of Denim Demon jeans, all painstakingly preweathered (you can even see the round imprint from a can of snus). A placard announced: ” . . .as our clothing is designed with the Sami in mind, it needs to be durable and hard-wearing to withstand the rigors of reindeer herding and living in harsh conditions. We gave seven pairs of jeans to seven Sami who wore them for six months without washing them.”

Voi, voi. I’m assuming they were bachelors. I have mixed feelings about this kind of marketing, and would love to be persuaded that the owners are not exploiting the Sami in the same way Ralph Lauren exploits Native Americans. (Update: the owners are Sami and the jeans are made in China.)

In elegant contrast to smelly jeans were the felted wool birch coats designed by Minnesotan Lauri Jacobi. I admire her work and would happily wear one of her coats if they weren’t so expensive. An American of northern Swedish ancestry, Jacobi’s are beautiful, made of natural materials, and useful, which incidentally are three of the requirements for authentic duodji (Sami handicrafts). I couldn’t resist purchasing a pair of “pine needle blanket” fleece mittens in gakti-inspired colors. (The gift shop clerk asked if they were oven mitts!) They will remind each time I wear them of my mixed and colorful heritage. Maybe I’ll knit a cable to attach them, as my mother did for our mittens as kids, for threading through our cloat sleeves.

In the final room was a hybrid costume from David Norman, whose grandfather was from Dalarna, Sweden. His statement explains that he worked in a Native American community in Tacoma, and his students made his regalia so he could dance at powwows, an incredible honor that moved him to reciprocate (an example of the respectful exchange encouraged in this essay).

“In the Native culture it is proper and encouraged to add your own story to the Native regalia. Weaving together two

cultures has been a way to honor both and add a Swedish touch to my Native dress. It creates opportunity for me to relate my own story to the Native culture in which I now participate.”

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I liked Mr. Norman’s story and regalia, but found it curious that the tribe (the Puyallup?), was not named, an omission that does not seem to honor Native custom, but perhaps there are reasons not obvious to me.

A Facebook friend recently posted photos of her mother’s wedding and her own, in which they are both wearing a Swedish wedding crown that has been handed down for generations. I find that lovely.

Sadly, for so many of us, the items that carried our ancestors’ cultures have disappeared. It is up to each of us to reclaim and refashion what we can.

A Big Bloody Hole With a Backhoe

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Sofia Jannock (left) and Lovisa Negga (right)

“Someone will make a big bloody hole with a backhoe in what we love, which is forever beyond repair. I get so angry.” Lovisa Negga

Two powerful Sámi artists are raising their voices against the mining near Jokkmokk.

On Friday, Lovisa Negga will take to the stage in Stockholm and dedicate Mihá Ja Gievrra, which means Proud and Strong, to the protest. The song (the title track to her new album) is sung in Lule Sámi, my ancestral tongue, which I find (not surprisingly) very beautiful. Negga says it is “a peaceful struggle song” that can “strengthen me and other people when things feel a bit hopeless.”

You whisper loudly
Everybody hears it
Shout it out, you are proud and strong
Whisper loudly
Let everybody know
Speak from your heart, proud and strong

The world is still generous
The power is heartless
You feel insignificant but will last forever
The one who dares say something
Will defend the mute
So use your voice, and free us all

Sofia Jannock’s new music video for her song Áhpi-Wide as Oceans includes images from the protests in Kallak interspersed with images from the Alta demonstrations of the 70’s and 80’s.

“The events in Kallak becomes a symbol of the exploitation of Sápmi . . . I wanted to get  the historical picture. These are issues that affect people personally, in everyday life, so it feels good to take them everywhere. Not just on the news pages.”

Read more in this article for SVT  (in Swedish). If you haven’t already, please sign the STOP MINING IN JOKKMOKK petition here.

You can find previous releases of Negga’s music here and Jannok’s music here (Amazon).

Another remarkable voice is Maxida Märak with the Downhill Bluegrass Band. Here she is with a cover of Steve Earle’s The Mountain: