Arctic, Awareness, Culture, Finnmark, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Photography, Quotes, Sámi, Sápmi, Tromsø

One smile for each side

Accidentally moved this post to the trash, so posting it again 😊

Sámi and Norwegian flag in Tromsdalen last summer outside the Arctic Cathedral

The following is an exerpt from Mathilde Magga’s 38 page text The places we Exist. on the struggles of having one ethnicity and a different nationality (being Sámi in Norway). Sámis do have a cultural region called Sápmi/Saepmie, but it has been devided over four countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia (Kola peninsula).

““Honey, can you please put on your bunad first so I can take a photo? Then we can change into your gákti?” Bunad is traditional Norwegian clothing, and gákti is Sami. If an outsider saw a photo of the two, they might think they were variations of the same traditional clothing. For the ones owning the clothing, it was very different. (…)

I remember that I obediently put on one piece of clothing then the other. I remember that I smiled for one photo, and then for the other. One smile for each side of the family, for each side of me.

A city of 75, 000 inhabitants on a tiny island in between rows of beautiful snow-covered mountains in Northern Norway. A city split in two. The official name was Tromsø, but it had been named Romsa centuries ago. As a tourist visiting, you would probably not notice the split between the people living there, as the tourism industry invested time in portraying the Indigenous population as loved. What a joke. The Sami population was never loved.

Mattaráhku also told her that Nieiddažan´s dad had stopped speaking the language after the second war and that he had changed his name to try to erase the man he used to be. She told her that this was why he was hurting so bad, because he had killed the most important part of himself.

I once read the word postmemory while doing research for an assignment for my Holocaust Literature class during my first semester in college. It was a theory created by Marianne Hirsch, the daughter of Holocaust survivors. She explained how parents could pass on their own trauma to their children, which would leave children traumatized by events they had never experienced:

Children of those directly affected by collective trauma inherit a horrific, unknown and unknowable past that their parents were not meant to survive.””

Worth a read ❤ Thank you, Mathilde for writing this.

9 thoughts on “One smile for each side”

  1. Beautiful words in this story and so interesting Monica, I know this to be true as well, it’s a sort of hidden unspoken pain that we can inherit if our parents or grandparents who were told not to speak the language. The way through to deal with it as our inheritance of pain is to make art out of it, to show this to the world and to claim back the courage and to be bold in both the indigenous world and the white world, just as you have done here. I am doing this too, working on a short story soon that will tell exactly this story, from a Māori perspective. I am going to try and get it published in a literary journal, so it will remain private, but I would be willing to share it with you because you’re my trusted friend and I would love you to read it. Can share over email I am still writing it at the moment. Big hugs xxx


    1. I absolutely agree, we can make art from the traumas and heal ourselves and the coming generations 🙂🤰 we have that power, just got to find that courage I guess 😄
      Oh, that would mean a lot to me if I could read it! Anytime you want to share! Just let me know and I’ll give you my email address 😊 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello my lovely friend sorry for the long gap between replies I have been very busy with work and writing. I hope you are going well and having a good weekend. Still working on stories but will let you know when they are ready 😉 🦄💜 stay warm and stay cozy


    1. Oh no worries there! Even if it takes a year to reply, no pressure 😁🙌🏻 i know how draining it can be to try and get everything done 🙏🏻✨
      Thank you, you too. Just nesting and preparing for birth here, hehe 💜🧘🏻‍♀️ big hugs xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much! 💖 At this point I am completely bedbound because of the weight and symptoms 🙈 So to be honest, hope he comes out sooner rather than later, hehe 😄 Would be the perfect christmas gift ❤🎁 xx


  3. I hope so too! That sounds intense and I hope baby comes soon for you. In my other comment I suggested being interviewed on my blog but obviously you are busy with the baby, there is no rush on getting back to me about that, I know next few months will be busy for you so don’t worry about it, the offer will be there whenever you want it to be profiled on my blog 🤗 and sending strength for the birth and milestones that come afterwards big hugs xxxx


    1. I read your other comment first, but still same answer, hehe 😄 would absolutely love to do it!🎨❤ I will let you know when i have the energy to! Looking forward.
      Thank you so much, i wish you a nice advent and chill christmas with your loved ones. 🙏🏻

      Liked by 1 person

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