Sámi Getost / Goat Cheese Recipe

Elli Karin Paval has a recipe at Slow Food Sápmi for smoked goat cheese that looks easy and delicious. Below it is converted it to U.S. Standard and reduced in quantity.

If you’ve never made goat cheese, check out this primer first.

If you don’t have access to a kåta, the Swedish term for goahti (a hut or tent), you can use a smoker or covered grill. The flavor of the smoke depends on the type of wood used.

Rennet is a coagulant made from animal enzymes; a vegetarian version is also available.)

Smoked goat cheese

5 cups fresh goat’s milk (not ultra-pasteurized)

2-1/2 tsp. rennet

1. Heat the milk to about 86 degrees F, do not let it boil.

2. Add rennet. Stir. Let stand for about 60 minutes.

3. Heat milk to about 99 degrees F. Take off heat and cool until it clumps into a curd.

4. Stir the curd. Squeeze out as much whey as possible and pack into a mold.

5. Place mold in a drying rack inside a smoker.

6. Smoke the cheese for a few hours (the longer, the stronger). It is easy to dry out.

Sámi Dreams

Photo by Randall Hyman of Ana Maria Eira and her reindeer

If you live in or near Portland, Oregon, don’t miss Randall Hyman’s “talking” photo exhibit called Sámi Dreams, September through November, 2021 at the Nordia House, 8800 SW Oleson Road.

This stunning collection of portraits and interviews includes audio by the portrait subjects. It’s as if they are in the same room with you. The photographer and curator Randall Hyman is an accomplished observer of the Arctic, with four decades covering natural history and travel topics for Smithsonian, National Geographic, Discover, American History, The Atlantic, Science, Wildlife Conservation, et al.

As a 2013 Fulbright Scholar in Norway and guest of the Norwegian Polar Institute, Hyman covered field science, resource development and climate change in the Arctic for a number of organizations and publications. In 2015, he was the distinguished Josephine Patterson Albright Fellow of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, expanding on his coverage of Arctic climate change. He continues to focus on Arctic topics and lecture on polar climate change across the United States and Europe.

The exhibit was most recently in Minneapolis. I hope our National Nordic Museum will consider hosting it next; it deserves a wide audience.

Bearaš, family

In 2019, following a wonderful reception to my “roots talk” (and singing of the Sámi Sova Lavlla) at the Leif Erickson Lodge, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to install a Sámi flag in the hall. To my knowledge this Sons of Norway Lodge is the third Nordic institution in Seattle to display our flag, after the Swedish Club, which has flown one above their portico for many years, and the National Nordic Museum, which includes several in its displays, such as the one below.

If all goes according to plan, a Sámi flag will be installed when Sandra Eira speaks at the Leif Erickson on August 4, 2021.

Display at National Nordic Museum, Seattle

If the walls could speak, I might ask them about my relative Anna Moen from Narvik, Norway. According to relatives, Anna was one of the lodge’s first female members (it opened to men in 1903 and to women in 1927). A Ballard resident, she was also a member of the Daughters of Norway and Nordlandslaget Nordlyset, whose archives are now at Pacific Lutheran University. (Perhaps a student would be interested in searching them for Sámi references.)

Below is a poem I wrote about Anna for last year’s POPO project, using an entirely optional formula of starting each new poem with the last line of one received.

Making a new home,
Anna from Narvik
never knew her áhkku’s
birthname or the kin
left behind in Sweden
Erasure being the point.
So two blood cousins
crossing Market Street
In 1947, could spy
the replica of a smile.
Become suddenly bereft.
Rootless Anna,
Orphan Clara!
Allow me to stop you
On this Duwamish deerpath
and join your tiny hands
Meet, dear foremothers
This is our birthright:
Bearaš, family.

If you like to write and receive short poems (and support the USPS) sign up for this year’s project.

Mari Boine on Turtle Island


The first time I heard her, the tears just fell. Transcendant. Intimate. Ethereal. Shamanic.

All typical reactions to Gula Gula, Goaskinviellja, and virtually any track in Mari Boine’s deep and varied catalog. Her voice is a hotline to the heart, tidal moon to the sea within, meditation magic. But for Sámi, she is that and more: sister, role model, teacher, mentor, cultural icon, advocate, activist. Those who have seen her perform can tell you the year, venue, who she was with, and what she was wearing. Anyone remotely related will tell how  (maternal 9th cousin, thanks for asking).

Norway has laureled, lauded, knighted, Spellemanned and lifetime-achievemented her. Earlier this year, she was awarded the Paul Robeson humanitarian prize for her antiracism work. She is known for being a generous mentor of young talent.

As this is her first tour of the West Coast, I wonder if she will see many Sámi Americans at her concerts, given our invisibility cloaks. And how about that other invisible minority for whom she is a lodestar: apostate Laestadians? Washington State is home to the largest outpost of the music-shunning sect that prompted Mari’s rebellion as a teen in Karasjok. Her candor in interviews gave hope to countless music and art loving misfits, myself included. 

Tear-streaked faces and solidarity fists may be tells. If she sings “this is my soul, it is a good soul,” I suspect more than a few of us will nod, close our eyes, and press hands to hearts, inhaling it as a blessing of protection against anyone (colonizer, priest, parent, self!) who says otherwise.

Mari Boine as Pathfinder shows a way back: to ancestral rhythms, to Eatni, symbiosis, reciprocity, resilience, love. Whether or not she sees us, may she feel the profound gratitude in each smile and “ollu giitu.”

You can find links to concert tickets on her website at https://www.mariboine.no

See you there!

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.


Sámi Blood, Special Screening & Panel

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