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

Bures, bures!

Meeting up at “Suddenly Sámi” movie

Hello, people! While up-to-the-minute event information is best found on the Pacific Sami Searvi Facebook page, this will be a resource for articles, photos, and other items that merit a longer shelf-life.

Let me start with a brief outline of the searvi’s genesis. In the beginning was…the Seattle International Film Festival. Specifically a showing of the film “Suddenly Sámi.” A few of us who had been chatting on Facebook decided to go analog and (gasp) meet each other. We saw the film, which was terrific, went out to lunch afterward, and decided we had (1) enjoyed each other adequately, and (2) could stand to repeat the whole thing.

Thus was born the group.

On subsequent meetings, we talked about naming ourselves. Lynn and Renee met up with Ilmari and Kent in Portland, and came back calling it the Odd Squad. Lynn offered other amusing options that were, for some reason, abandoned. I suggested Pacific Siida as it would cover anyone within shouting distance of the ocean, with the nice touch of pacific meaning “peaceful.”

Troy suggested “searvi,” a perfectly good Sámi word for association.

Ergo, Pacific Sámi Searvi. Or PSS for short.

Next up: gunshots at one of our outings!

Reading material at the pancake breakfast