“We should try to avoid thinking of ourselves as worthless persons – we are naturally free and unconditioned. We are intrinsically enlightened and lack nothing. When engaging in meditation practice, we should feel it to be as natural as eating, breathing and defecating. It should not become a specialized or formal event, bloated with seriousness and solemnity.”
– Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche 🧡📿
(The buddhist shawl I am wearing is an outer sign of my inner commitment to the vajrayana buddhist path)
Wanted to share these amazing old family portraits from our Nilsen/Kitti/Tornensis/Kemi/Hætta/Nango family tree 😊🎄 Taken in 1882. Exactly 110 years before I was born 😄 This is one of the many reasons I love photography 🙌🏻 Colourised by Per Ivar Somby recently. (Not the best quality because I took with my phone).
Area these names come from/are native to: Kautokeino, Karasjok, Øksfjord/botn (Loppa/Alta), Kittilä and Kemi. Probably more areas.
The nine remaining Sámi languages are spoken in the north of Europe (see map and gallery below) in a cross-border region which includes Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. This region is generally called Sápmi – mostly by sámis, and is sometimes referred to as Lapland. Laponia in swedish Lapland is the World’s largest unmodified UNESCO nature area still cultured by natives.
Sámi languages speakers estimate:
Southern Sámi 300 – 500 speakers
Ume Sámi – less than 20 speakers
Lule Sámi 2 000 – 3 000 speakers
Pite Sámi – less than 20 speakers
Northern Sámi – 20-30 000 speakers. There are three main North Sámi dialects. Northern Sámi is the most accessible language, both in terms of literature, news broadcasts, and other material for those who want to learn a Sámi language as a foreign language.*
Kemi Sámi – extinct
Inari Sámi 300 – 500 speakers
Akkala Sámi – considered mostly extinct since 2003*
Kildin Sámi 300 – 700 speakers
Skolt Sámi 300 – 500 speakers in Finland, fewer than 20 speakers in Russia
Ter Sámi – less than 5 speakers left, all elderly
Out of the 11 historically attested Sámi languages, 9 are still spoken/used.
Today there are around 90 000 Sámis, but as you can see from the numbers they do not match up to speakers of Sámi languages. Roughly 4/10 Sámis speak and use Sámi today.
Why is this so?
To avoid humiliation and to give their children “better chances in life”, indigenous and minority parents often decide to speak a dominant or official language with their children. Sámi parents have not been an exception to this rule, especially in the very near past.
For the sake of how long this post would be in order to include all four countries’ history with the Sámi people, I will mainly focus on Norway.
Up to the 17th century, Sámi society lived pretty much its own life, with little interference from the outside. But with the new borders of the Nordic countries, interference was inevitable. Historically, the language situation can be divided into three distinct periods: a missionary phase; a harsh assimilation phase; and the present phase, with potential for integration and revitalisation.
The 17th and 18th centuries characterise the beginning of missionary activities, with some very positive projects for the benefit of the Sámi languages: teaching was conducted through the medium of Sámi and religious texts were translated into Sámi. From the middle of the 19th century however, a new policy based on national romanticism and ‘vulgar Darwinist ideas’ led to a harsh suppression of Sámi and the languages. The Norwegian Parliament and government pursued overtly a policy aiming at assimilating the whole Sámi population in Norway in the course of one generation.
The “dark century,” 1870 to 1970 ca, had detrimental effects which can still be felt on both the languages themselves and on their status and speakers. In the coastal areas of Norway (and elsewhere), negative attitudes were transmitted by the Sámi themselves as a result of the policies, and inter-generational transfer of the language ceased in only a few generations.
New efforts in maintaining the languages were revived in the 1970s and still continues to this day. However, one of the most striking failures of the Sámi strategies is that the smaller Sámi languages (in numbers of speakers as listed above) have not seen success in improving their situation or even in defending their previous position. This failure is partly due to the fact that most speakers live apart from the larger Sámi groups. Dispersed among Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, and Russians, they do not have the demographic concentration that would enable them to use their language in the workplace and in official situations, including schools.
A language’s development, aging, and dying was considered “natural,” out of human reach. Languages were not killed, they “died of old age.” This agentless “model” for the prediction of the future of languages is still found among politicians, and legitimates their way of treating minority languages.
In Norway, many municipalities with a Sámi population had developed procedures to give the Sámi some local linguistic rights. Yet, when the Sámi language law (in force since 1992) designated certain areas as belonging to the Sámi administrative districts, many of the municipalities left outside these official districts – often municipalities where the speakers of the smaller Sámi languages lived – withdrew services in Sámi, claiming that the law did not require them. Even today, there is strong resilience towards using official Sámi names in for example Norwegian towns and municipalities.
*Currently, education, official documents and the media use Northern Sámi almost exclusively. This variant is used as a de facto “official language” and the most significant efforts have gone into the development of this particular language, to the detriment of other Sámi languages.
Opinions also differ on whether the different versions of Sámi are actual languages or dialects, and how to designate their speakers. “The Song of the Sámi Family” is the official Sámi anthem. To demonstrate the differences among the Sámi languages, here is how the Sámi anthem titles look in Northern Sámi: “Sámi Soga Lávlla,” in Inari Sámi: “Säämi suuvâ laavlâ,” and in Skolt Sámi: “Sää´msooǥǥ laull.” In Finnish, the title would be the somewhat similar; “Saamen suvun laulu.”
Most Sámis today speak either Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, or even English as their everyday tongue (some migrated to the USA). Many are bilingual as well. Another factor is that some Sámis do not identify as Sámi or even know that they are due to the assimilation in the past. They do not have any relationship with the language(s).
**Akkala Sámi is the most endangered Eastern Sámi language. On December 29, 2003, Maria Sergina – the last remaining fluent native speaker of Akkala Sámi – died. However, as of 2011 there were at least two people, both aged 70, with some minor knowledge of Akkala Sámi.
Norway, Sweden and Finland was in 2019 urged by the UN to increase public funding of Sámi parliaments as a response to the dire state of the disappearing languages. But even if the situation seems dire for many languages, it is still possible to revitalise them and start using them more often. Which languages survive and which do not ultimately seems to be a question of human will, not of any rules of nature.
I know that languages and cultures come and go, but I do feel it a great loss to lose what has been native for Sápmi and Lapland for literally thousands of years, in only a few generations, when it can be perserved. I am happy that some schools and institutions are giving sámi language courses to anyone who wishes to learn it (although this is mostly in Northern sámi), and I do also secretly wish that my children will learn it, which I never did due to the Norwegianization process in Finnmark. Language is a huge part of culture and when it’s taken away, people get confused about their own community and sense of belonging, and even turn on each other as a result of feeling alienated.
“Stuttering or stammering, in its simplest form, is any disruption to speech fluency. This could be repetitions, prolongations, or blocks and may occur anywhere in the word or phrase. Nerves or anxiety does not cause stuttering. Stuttering is a neurophysiological disorder. Oftentimes, it is the stuttering that causes anxiety.”
“Stuttering is believed to occur due to dysfunctional blood flow in certain areas of the brain.”
How stuttering has manifested for me:
Blockages; going mute. Also known as stutter blocks. I’ll know exactly what I want to say, but I physically cannot get the words out. They are stuck in my chest, head or throat/jaw. This has made it quite hard to communicate a lot of the time, and to make friends or be social in general. I often rehearse sentences in my head, and get overjoyed if I manage to say it out loud with fluency. This takes a lot of effort, and is why I prefer writing or any other form of communication. I also struggle some with phone calls.
The blocks makes me say “Uummm” a lot too, to kind of fill in the time because I really want to get the next word out, which is quite stressful. I do fear it makes me sound dumb or slow, and it does kill my confidence, especially if I am with people I want to talk a lot with or I know I have a lot to say on the topic we are discussing. I usually have no problem talking to animals, close old friends, chant buddhist mantras or in certain situations where I don’t feel a pressure to say anything. But those situations are rare, and I would love to learn how to “unblock” my speech, which is why I am doing speech therapy too,
Do you have a speech problem, and/or something similar? Let me know how you deal with it.
You know how you need to pretend to sleep in order to fall asleep? And at some point it just happens. Maybe it’s the same with other areas of life. Fake it till you make it, kind of, not in a bad way – just a dedicated one. I have noticed at least that the same applies to yoga and meditation sometimes. If I feel stressed, anxious and restless, I force myself to do the practice anyway. And at some level it still does its magic, of that I am 100% sure. In between the sleepless thoughts and rough emotions – they become like clouds in the pastel coloured sky.
Wishing all a lovely calm Polar night, and remember that it’s in darkness you shine the brightest 🌌✨🎆
Been about a year since I wrote one of my currently-lists. So felt like doing another one now in the late hours of the night 🌌🙂 Here we go, I am currently…:
Reading: What’s Next: On Post Awakening Practice by Kim Pema Rinpoche. Second time I read it, just to understand it all better, as it is very technical. He describes the process of analysing your own and other people’s energy body from a tantric point of view. Highly recommend. If you click the link you find the pdf book for free.
Watching: Not really watching any series at the moment. Just random documentaries on youtube. Watched this one two days ago and found it very good. It’s on the topic of brain health. Something that interests me quite a lot, having some brain problems myself, from concussion, chronic migraines, viral infection, and neurodiversity.
Drinking every day: I wish I could write coffee. Five cups a day. But alas, I have cut the caffeine until our son is born 🖤 So currently drinking cocoa with MCT oil every day.
Eating every day: Hands down; kiwi fruits. Big craving of mine 🤰🥝 Also, blood sausage. Definitely getting my vitamin C and iron in an abundance.
Happy about: Very excited about my pregnancy. It’s been so wanted for us. I almost feel like I talk and share too much about it! I feel so cute and funny looking in the mirror. Like a little hippo 🙂 I love feeling his little feet kicking. Time flies though, and it all seems a bit unreal at times. Nine months sounds so long but actually all the weeks and months just go by.. Can’t wait to meet him. It will be unreal too, I am sure. Not long now.
Not so happy about: Feeling quite raw and vulnerable. Could be the hormones. I am sure every pregnant person ever has felt this way. Fortunate to have women around me who have given birth to give advice and words of encouragement.
Thankful for: That I am actively seeking more help for my health problems. And that I live somewhere there is help to seek. It seems some changes has been made with the covid situation, but not so strict here that already chronically ill people cannot get any help. To be honest, if I didn’t have internet or media around me, I think I would not even know there was a pandemic going on. My daily life has not changed with the pandemic; my disabilities keep me mostly in one place, as has been the case for years, and my days look the same. I leave the house maybe once or twice a week and a lot of my ‘activities’ are online, chatting with friends, watching documentaries, keeping in touch with my sangha and edit photos once in a while. The only thing I have noticed is that I miss being able to travel, to go see loved ones and attend yoga retreats.
What is one or more things from the list you are currently doing?
What is your favourite childhood memory? For me, I think it has to be being in nature, exploring all the textures, colours and scenery. Still one of my favourite things to do, along side taking photos.
Come see my little exhibition of 13 paintings at Magic Ice Tromsø ❄ Most paintings are for sale 🙏🏻 They also have the cosiest tiny coffee place there, an impressive ice sculpture gallery by Lithuanian artists and a cocktail bar – all ice, even the glasses ☃️🥂🌌
Traditional sámi wool shawl by NativeInNorway, Nordkjosbotn, Balsfjors.
This leaf survived in my bag for weeks, on planes and buses (from some travels in february, I hope to find time to share some photos with you soon!) Only a bit broken in the edges 💜💙💚 Turned out great as canvas for a little landscape painting🎨🍁
The sun is going below the horizon for two months in not many weeks and Polar night begins. I actually like the Polar night. Maybe I am just used to it growing up here or there is something nostalgic about it but there is a paradoxal warmth and safety in this dark period and snowy blanket that covers everything. Every winter you can see especially two constallations in the night sky. Little Bear and Big Bear. I remember being a kid, dressing up in my warmest clothes and shoes, go outside and completely incase my little self in compressed snow as tightly as possible and stare at the constallations for hours. It’s said that the Arctic is named after the greek word for bear, Arktos. Maybe there is a connection there.
“The first study on the DNA of the ancient inhabitants of Finland has been published, with results indicating that an abundance of genes reached Finland all the way from Siberia.
The genetic samples compared in the study were collected from human bones found in a 3,500-year-old burial place in the Kola Peninsula and the 1,500-year-old lake burial site at Levänluhta in South Ostrobothnia, Finland. All of the samples contained identical Siberian genes.
Siberian origin remains perceptible
The ancient DNA has also been compared to modern populations. Siberian origins are still visible in the Sámi, Finns and other populations of the Finno-Ugric language family.
“However, it has been mixed up with the European genome. Of all European populations, modern Sámi are the most evident representatives of the Siberian genome. As for the title of the modern people with the largest Siberian genetic component, that privilege goes to the Nganasan people living in northern Siberia,” says Päivi Onkamo, head of the SUGRIGE project at the Universities of Helsinki and Turku.
The project succeeded in mapping out the entire genome from the bones of eleven individuals. From the Kola Peninsula, the bones of six individuals were collected from a 3,500-year-old burial place, while those of two individuals were found from another location dating back to the 18th and 19th century. In the case of the bones found in the Levänluhta site in South Ostrobothnia, the entire genome was mapped for three individuals.”
These findings are very interesting to me, as I am very much into geneaology and learning about my family history. Different cultures and people fascinate me in general, and although this is just trivial information, it does shed light on why we look so different from other Europeans, for example.
Some other uralic/finno-ugric peoples with same roots and ties to Siberian regions are the Nenets (previously called the Samoyeds), the Khanty people, the Mansi and the Mari.
Are you into geneaology and/or anthropology? What is your favourite subject? 🙏🏼
Some things I truly believe are yours to keep, that no one can take from you:
Your spiritual practice. In my case, it is vajrayana buddhism. It has saved my life in many ways – both in dealing with chronic illness, but also the normal existential stuff like finding purpose and joy 🙂🙏🏼📿
Your ambitions and dreams (if they come from a place of pure motivation and love). In my case now, it has been starting a little family with children 💜🤱
Your ethnicity and ancestry, no matter how lost or scattered it is in this modern world. In my case from my personal experience, I feel very connected to my home in the Arctic and being uralic/finno-ugric (sámi). I didn’t as a kid and teenager, at all, but now as I am older, I feel like I can “own” it more. I don’t speak any of the uralic languages, and feel a sadness about this. A disconnection from my own culture. And a feeling of not belonging to a community, when they can’t speak to me. I hope my son will not feel as disconnected. But I have found other ways to express this – primarily through art and duodji. Not all languages are of verbal nature, but are equally important, I think. 🎨
Your creativity. Not necessarily arts, but anything you find a solution to that involves stepping out of the habitual intellectual mind and into a state of spontaneity and flow.🌊
Your struggles. This sounds negative, but for me I mean that my struggles are valid. I have a body that has its big share of physical problems, and I don’t mean to whine. At all! 🙂 Just to express that this is my reality, and that chronic (perhaps invisible to others) illness can happen to anyone, any time in life.💙
Your love. This one sounds cheesy but I think we all can feel love and that we have love as a basic human need. To receive it and give it. And we all have different ways of showing it. I like giving gifts for example.. but am not so good verbally expressing how I feel. I like receiving kind loving deeds, but not to be smothered. So understanding how we show it differently is important too. I also believe that as humans we have the capacity to love many at the same time. Whether it is friends or partners, plural. Romantic, familial or platonic.❤
Logged into my FamilyTreeDNA profile today and discovered that the percentage and accuracy has been updated! There was unknown percentages and no mention for example of slavic DNA last time, so I guess they are always evolving in accuracy🙏🏼 Wonder how it will look in a year or so!
Edit: Commersial DNA tests are not that accurate, this is more like an estimate.
Have you ever done a DNA test? What did you find and how did it affect your view?🌍
Did you know there is a reason why orange+blue and yellow+purple work together so well? 🧡💙💛💜 They are considered complementary colours! “Complementary colours are pairs of colours which, when combined or mixed, cancel each other out by producing a grayscale colour like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those two colors. Complementary colours may also be called ‘opposite colours’.”
“The buddha, the dharma and sangha are the triple gems of the spiritual life beyond the bounds of this world. … Humility is the moisture or fertilizer from which devotion will grow. To help that devotion grow, remember the following: Your friends, family, identity or projects, big or small, will not provide you with the fundamental basis necessary for bliss and happiness. Absolutely everything around you is impermanent, even your body, and while you can be sure you will die, you can have no certainty about when, where or how. The people with whom you associate, who accompany you through this life, will all eventually lead you to pain. All your relationships are temporary. When you check into a hotel you don’t immediately think that you’ll spend eternity with the managers, maids and waiters. Your home, your friends, your ideals and values are just part of a hotel experience. Sooner or later you will have to check out and leave them all behind.”
– Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
I don’t think this is a negative quote or way to look at things, although it sounds negative at first! Remembering impermanence is a good motivator for making the best of life and our time here.
Lowcarb chocolate muffins (from one of those easy to make packages) 😋🙌🏼 Also, look at the beautiful Latvian cup coasters of traditional woven belts 😁 they make me smile. And remind me to maybe do some more weaving myself 🤷🏻♀️