Monday, June 11, 2012

Gather with other Sami-Americans in July


Like Lars Levi himself, many Laestadians (former and current) have Sami roots, although we may not have grown up aware of them. Some of us may even have had forebears who denied "Lapp blood" despite the evidence. But that is a story for another time. What I want to talk about today is Siiddastallen! 


Hosted by the Sami Siida of North America, Siiddastallen is a semi-regular gathering of Sami Americans. This year it is in Stacy, Minnesota from July 6-8. I am so eager to attend, not only to see friends and make new ones, and to learn more about my heritage, but to see my home state again.


Siiddastallen will include educational seminars (including one about Laestadius by his great-great-granddaughter), films, workshops, crafts (duodje), shared meals, and campfires. Ellen Marie Jensen will be there with her book "We Stopped Forgetting," about the Sami American experience (the book includes, I am tickled to report, a photo of my daughter carrying the Sami flag). There will be several lavvus onsite, courtesy of Northern Lavvu. No reindeer, however (the park has a no pets policy, in case you were thinking of bringing one!).





If you are interested in attending, send an email to siiddastallan2012@gmail.com for an information packet.


The organizers have asked me to moderate a forum on spirituality, which is very intriguing. I look forward to hearing from other "Am-Sam's" about their practices and beliefs (or lack thereof), and expect to find a lot of diversity.


‎"Først folk, sia finna" (first people, then Saami), a North-Norwegian proverb

Do you have Sami heritage? If so, what does it mean to you?
--Free

7 comments:

  1. I noticed more than a few Laestadians & other older Finns who had that 'Sami look' to them but I never once heard of anyone claiming Sami heritage except one old Finn codger who stated he came to America because he was 'tired of chasing reindeer.' I also remember some Laestadians who looked so oriental that they were quietly referred to as 'blond haired chinks' but I am not sure if they had Sami blood in them. My guess is that those of Sami heritage dumped that part of their family history once they came to America. I found out from my grandparents that there was often unmentionables left behind in Finland when people came to America including ex-wives. Old AP

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  2. This is fascinating...my family has always claimed Sami heritage..though we used "Laplander," which is a slur, I was later told....funny, I had a kid who always called me "chinky" in elementary school...nice right? My coloring is quite dark, though my sister is blonde and blue....

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  3. Oh, and my grandmother's favorite joke was..."what do you call a Finn who mves to the city?" A Swede....apparently being Finnish was a liability at times.

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  4. I almost missed seeing this site! I found out my grandmother was half-Sami (North "Sea Sami") about 3 years ago, rather than almost all Norwegian. Now I know she was about 1/4 Norsk (at most), 1/4 Kvaen and 1/2 Sami. It answered many of my questions and other's questions to learn the truth. I worked on my family's genealogy for over 20 years, but people who either don't know their own heritage, or are determined to hide it, can keep secrets even after their deaths. The tool of DNA analysis can be used to help identify and perhaps verify the truth, but has to be backed up with genealogy records (census, parish, baptism records, etc.) Without those records to prove who your ancestors were and from where, DNA is not enough.

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  5. True, Old AP, many Sami denied their heritage when they came to America (and some still do, even in Europe). Many others are now choosing to "stop forgetting," as Ellen writes about in her book (which I am very eager to read!).

    I grew up knowing I had ancestors and relatives in "Swedish Lapland," but didn't envision them as "Lapps," despite numerous examples of the Sami genotype in our extended family (which runs from blonde and blue to tawny and dark). It simply wasn't talked about.

    It was through the study of Laestadius's "Fragments of Lappish Mythology" and encounters via this blog that I became more and more interested in my genealogy. The story of Sami oppression is inextricably entwined, from the 19th century onward, with Laestadius' efforts to save them, not only from "hellfire" but from the dominant culture. I can understand now why he is a complicated figure in Sami history, and can be viewed with both appreciation and regret.

    When you consider that the Sami were robbed of their culture, language, and community, you can see what a huge disruption that was for generations, and it is not hard to imagine the need for certain survival skills, such as keeping community together at the cost of individualism. Survival skills we no longer need. Yet, like the descendants of Holocaust victims, we may still be paying in elevated stress levels, heart disease, etc.

    That is one reason why I think Sami history is worth examining. Ours may be the first generation secure enough to look at that deep wound without blinking. We are freed from the numerous Catch-22's our ancestors faced (for example, to "pass" as European or to maintain their Sami-ness). We can decide for ourselves what is valuable and worthy, and what is best left as cinders in history's arran (Sam for hearth).
    --Free

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  6. A link to a TIMES article about inherited stress: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2016824,00.html
    --Free

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  7. Marcus Lee Hansen was a child of Norweigian immigrants and he knew a lot about the Finns. I borrowed this information from a wiki article. Hansen coined a law called 'Hansen's Law' which is probably applicable to many of the posters on this web site:
    Hansen was an important historian of American immigration. In a 1938 essay, "The Problem of the Third Generation Immigrant", he first presented "Hansen's Law": "What the son wishes to forget the grandson wishes to remember". This law predicts that ethnicity is preserved among immigrants, weakens among their children, and returns with the grandchildren. Children of immigrants tend to reject the foreign ways of their parents, including their religion, and want to join the American mainstream, but the next generation wants to retain the values of their ancestors. The religion of the first generation immigrant, which the second generation rejects, may be reaffirmed by the third generation. Old AP

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