Celebrate Sámi National Day on Wed, Feb. 6th at PLU

On February 6th, Sámi National Day, or Sámi People’s Day (Sámi Álbmotbeaivi), is celebrated throughout Sápmi, the land of the Indigenous Sámi in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The celebration commemorates the first international, pan-Sámi organizational meeting held in Trondheim in 1917, marking the beginning of the Sámi rights movement. Sámi Álbmotbeaivi has been celebrated since 1993. This year, on its 20th anniversary, Pacific Lutheran University and the Scandinavian Cultural Center will celebrate the day for the first time.

Events are free and open to the public. Several members of our Pacific Sámi Searvi will attend and lead the singing of the Sámi national anthem. Please join us! (Get directions.)

Schedule:

  • 2:30 pm Refreshments and a brief talk by Professor Troy Storfjell
  • 2:40 pm Singing of the Sámi anthem (new English version!)
  • 3 pm The one-hour documentary Herdswoman (in Swedish and Sámi with English subtitles). 
  • 4 pm Panel-led discussion of the film
  • 7 pm Sámi Professor Harald Gaski will present this year’s Bjug Harstad Memorial Lecture, titled “Celebrating the Return of the Sun and the Recognition of a People: The Sami National Day in the Context of Myth and Poetics.” Gaski will explain why the Sámi consider themselves the descendents of the sun, and provide some background for the selection of February 6 for the Sámi National Day. He will also show how myths have played an important role in the work of Sámi multi-media artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, setting his work in an international Indigenous context. (Harald Gaski is Associate Professor of Sámi Literature at the University of Tromsø in Norway, and an internationally well-known expert on Sámi literature and culture, and a leading researcher in the emerging field of indigenous methodologies.)

Suddenly Curious

Director Ellen-Astri Lundby

Last Tuesday, as part of their excellent event series in conjunction with the 8 Seasons in Sápmi exhibit, the Nordic Heritage Museum hosted a screening of Suddenly Sámi, the documentary by Ellen-Astri Lundby about her discovery of Sámi heritage. This was my second viewing, and almost as powerful as the first.

Lundby is a charming and deft storyteller. As she explores the heritage her mother kept from her, she brings us along to northern Norway, meeting with relatives and finding clues to her family’s past. With several parallels to my own experience of suppressed heritage, I found Lundby’s story profoundly moving. Her mother reminded me of my grandmother, her cousins of my uncles, the rural scenes, my former home, the Laestadian hymn, my childhood church. Even the fish boning and the carving of a carcass were familiar, having witnessed both many times as a child. But it was the unfamiliar reindeer corral scene that moved me to tears.

Pondering what it means to be Sámi, Lundby jokes that despite her people being Sea Sámi, and the fact that only 10 percent of Sámi herd reindeer, reindeer might make her feel more authentic. After a comedic scene of her wrestling with antlers, she is shown in a breathtaking longshot, standing alone in the middle of the spiraling herd in the snow. Beyond its stark beauty, the image seems symbolic of the ancestral search itself, which is not linear, but widens and narrows and circles in on itself, less like a tree than a whirlpool. Continue reading