Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Sápmi, the Motherland



This Friday is the opening of the 2016 Jokkmokk market, which occurs the first weekend in February as it has for over 400 years. One of my Karelian ancestors (and perhaps yours, if you have roots in Swedish Lapland) traded for many years at the Jokkmokk market, having traversed the long distance from Lake Onega on skis with loaded sleds. His son Mykel Ryss, on one of their trips, fell in love with a local girl, and they became the first residents of Nattavaara, a village in Gallivare municipality.

The name Gallivare is familiar to anyone who attended the OALC: it is the "mother church," where the elders reside and preach. I found it interesting that in 1992, there were three bronze pillars installed not far from the church by a local sculptor who titled them "Tre Seitar," referring to the ancient sacred stones, or holy sites, of the Sami. The syncretism of Sami (stone seiti) and Christian (the number three) continues.

This Saturday is Sami National Day, or Álbmotbeaivi. Here, at last year's Jokkmokk market, the crowd is singing the Sami anthem. (It is even lovelier with a choir, in this formal version.) In addition to the usual ceremonies, there will be a demonstration against the mining companies that are devastating the Arctic, and the Swedish government that allow it.

In the Pacific Northwest, we'll be celebrating at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. Our Sami Day celebration will include singing the anthem, snacking on reindeer sausage, and meeting Sami/Blackfoot filmmaker Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, who will screen her award-winning short film.

Please join us if you can.

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Giitu!