Showing posts with label sweden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sweden. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Grave Robbing to Reconciliation

"Perhaps the best discovery made on the trip, namely 2 sacks full of Lapp skulls and bones." -- Lars Levi Laestadius
The quote is from an excerpt (translated from Swedish) of a remarkable White Paper published by the Church of Sweden, available in print (at no cost) and excerpted online, where it can be copied and pasted into Google Translate. Titled "The Historical Relationships between the Swedish Church and the Sámi: A Scientific Anthology," the paper is the result of a project begun in 2012 whose purpose was to "deepen the knowledge of historical relations between the Church and the Sámi." It serves as a public confession of abuse, and the Church calls it is a necessary first step toward reconciliation.

A direct line can be drawn between the grave-robbing of the 19th century and the race biology of the 20th century to the horrors of the Holocaust. When the Swedish Institute for Racial Biology was founded in Uppsala in 1922, it was the first of its kind in the world, and its painstaking research methodology was admired by, and became a model for, Nazi Germany. (Learn more in this excellent documentary.)

Excerpt from "The Historical Relationships between the Swedish Church and the Sámi: A Scientific Anthology":
PRIESTS CONTRIBUTED TO RACIAL BIOLOGY RESEARCH
Priests and other representatives of the Church of Sweden took part in robberies and excavations and contributed to the collection of Sámi human remains for cranial and racial research.
This research has in itself contributed to the notions of the Sámi as a primitive and lower standing people and enabled discrimination, marginalization and oppression of Sámi in Sweden.
Priests participated in the robbery of Sámi graves
During the 19th and early 1900's, Sámi tombs were plundered in a comprehensive search for skulls and skeletal parts, including the service of racial biology. Priests and other representatives of the Swedish Church participated. Today, Sámi demands that human remains be returned.
SÁMI GRAVES WERE ROBBED 
The grave robberies were sometimes held secretly during the night and using bribes. There was, of course, a resistance among Sámi against what happened, which those responsible showed little respect for.
The most famous example is Lars Levi Læstadius (1800-1861), church leader in Karesuando and Pajala parishes and founder of the Lapponian revival movement. There are several examples of how he participated in the robbery of Sámi tombs, for example as a guide and local expert in the French La Recherche expedition (1838-1840). Læstadius himself writes in an unsigned newspaper article about what the expedition found: "Perhaps the best discovery made on the trip, namely 2 sacks full of Lapp skulls and bones."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sámi people want apology from Lutheran Church for overreach

Please read this HELSINGIN SANOMAT article and comment.

Sámi people want apology from Lutheran Church for overreach

Seminar examines legacy of Lars Levi Laestadius on 150th anniversary of his death

Lars Levi Laestadius restored morality to the culture of the indigenous Sámi people and saved the Sámi from alcoholism that was imported by the dominantculture.
“At the same time Laestadius, his followers, and the Christian clergy wiped out the ancient traditional religion of the Sámi. There are families in which the joik, or traditional vocal music tradition, disappeared thanks to the activities of the clergy”, said Klemetti Näkkäläjärvi, chairman of the Finnish Sámi Parliament.
He spoke at an international seminar in Tornio, which focused on Laestadius’s life as a missionary and researcher.
Monday marked the 150th anniversary of Laestadius’s death.
The revival movement that he founded has grown to be the largest ecclesiastical revival movement in the Nordic region.
According to Näkkäläjärvi, the Sámi have an ambivalent attitude toward Laestadius, not least because his mother was half-Sámi.
He said that Laestadian clergy perhaps saw the joiks as being part of the practice of the ancient shamanist Sámi religion, and consequently saw them as sinful.
“The same kind of proselytising affected the Sámi language. People were told not to speak Sámi, even though they did not speak Finnish well enough”, Näkkäläjärvi said.
He said that the Finnish Lutheran Church should apologise for its earlier activities in the homeland of the Sámi in Lapland.
“In Sweden such an apology was made already in the 1990s, but it is important that the Sámi should be treated as equals after that”, said Hans Stiglund, the Lutheran Bishop of Luleå, Sweden.
“In this respect, societal development has been going in a positive direction in Finland as well”, added Oulu Bishop Samuel Salmi.
“A study is underway in the Oulu Diocese on this matter. It culminates a year from now in a seminar that is to be held in Inari. At that time we will unravel image traditions and memories on both sides, which have slowed down interaction between Finns and the Sámi”, Salmi says.
“There is reason to make a distinction between Laestadius and the preachers that followed him. It seems that what followed in the movement is now being blamed on him”, says Professor Juha Pentikäinen.
Pentikäinen says that Laestadius was a botanist, religious philosopher, an ethnographer, and a linguist, as well as a writer of Sámi mythology.
Also made public on Monday were extracts from Lappish mythology, which had been lost for a century and a half.
The book, which had been commissioned, was never printed, because French King Louis Philippe lost his power.
Pentikäinen tracked down the lost parts, with Dr. Risto Pulkkinen helping him in his detective work.

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Interesting!

What do you think?

Do you question the assumptions of the article? Did Laestadius restore morality to the
Sámi? Should the Finnish Church apologize for overreaching? Should Laestadius share the responsibility for what his followers did in his name? Are you interested in reading the newly-puglished fragments of Sámi mythology?