Wanted to make a small post on this day, although we are just “celebrating” at home drinking coffee and watching a new five part documentary called “From Sápmi to Alaska”. It is about the Sámi reindeer herders who went from here in the late 1800s to help teach the natives living there about herding. Many stayed, some returned.
A very chill corona friendly celebration you could say 😊
Each day is getting closer to meeting our son. With the corona situation, we have been unfortunate in not getting the help and support we needed from the beginning, but as the birth is right around the corner, we have finally found a midwife that we can call and ask questions any time. We even got a little “tour” of the delivery room, which helped a lot. Getting a visual of where it will all happen and my options on how to deliver him. I have decided on a waterbirth (which I had no idea was an option here!), but plans may change of course.
I am excited to say I am looking forward to meeting him more than I am scared now (which has been the main feeling until recently), and to witness the incredible innate power the female body posesses of giving life to another being. It’s quite amazing; my body has just grown this new human on its own, and I have done nothing actively to make him grow. I have just been fortunate to be his home for all this time, and feeling both proud and nervous to “share” him with the world.
My thoughts are the same regarding the birth itself. Body will know how to birth him with the help of contractions and surges – or waves as I like to see them 🌊🌊🌊 I cannot think of a more natural thing than birthing. I imagine it will be beyond any physical pain I have ever experienced. And I do expect both tearing and other issues. But I also imagine it will be the most empowering experience I can have as a woman, as the hormones and biology takes over, and I get to be right in the eye of that storm and join the millions and billions of mothers who have given birth before me. “All” I have to do is stay present and breathe into every sensation. Body will know what to do. It was literally built for this to happen.
I recently learned about the Ferguson reflex (also known as the foetal ejection reflex), which is:
“The neuroendocrine reflex comprising the self-sustaining cycle of uterine contractions initiated by pressure at the cervix or vaginal walls. It is an example of positive feedback in biology. The Ferguson reflex occurs in mammals.
Upon application of pressure to the internal end of the cervix, oxytocin is released (therefore increase in contractile proteins), which stimulates uterine contractions, which in turn increases pressure on the cervix (thereby increasing oxytocin release, etc.), until the baby is delivered.”
It’s great to know about this innate reflex. It works almost like a vomiting reflex, ejecting baby out. So, in any case, baby will come out one way or another, no matter the approach I choose. It is and has been a bit like navigating a jungle trying to find out how I wish to do my own personal pregnancy, and it will be a challenge to go with the flow during delivery.
I have been very adamant that I will use and need an epidural, if being in water will not work for me. I think it would be of great help to deal with the pain. But the downsides of this drug is bugging me a lot lately. It will make me quite immobile, have me on my back working against gravity and I will need a midwife/nurse to tell when to push. Which will also increase my risk of tearing as I will not feel anything. Being upright in a squatting position makes more sense to me, and it will maybe make it easier for him to find his way out. But again, we will see when the day comes! 🙂 One thing is for certain though, I want to try the gas and air (nitrous oxide) they offer 😄✌🏻
Have you given birth? What was your experience, and would you do it again?
How is the last days of this year going for you? For me, they are spent in bed, as baby boy belly is growing and the extra weight and symptoms keeps me still. As I have shared before, I have chronic fatigue, so this is quite the job for the body 🤘🏻 Slow days but good opportunity for meditation and contemplation, and preparing as much as possible for the physical and emotional ordeal that is soon to come. Child birth seems like this big abstract thing only other people do, but it is becoming more and more real for me every day as we are getting close to due date. Being a home for another being for almost 9 months now has been the hardest, most heart opening and tear filled journey ❤💙💚💛
““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.””
The nine remaining Sámi languages are spoken here 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 we 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.
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 🌌✨🎆
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.
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 quite 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 Siberian roots/from Siberia are the Nenets (previously called the Samoyeds), the Khanty, the Mansi, the Selkup and the Mari people. We also have very similar traditional costumes. Maybe I will write a post on our traditional dresses.
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.❤
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 🤷🏻♀️
Did you know only around 30% of the whole sámi population speaks/write one of the sámi languages today? The longlasting banning of the languages caused identity crisis for many, but I am happy it is changing slowly 🐢 I feel proud to be part of the generation that is reviving our own culture, with not only language but art, clothing and music too 💚
An awesome scene the artist paints, expert and deft his hand. Brush strokes swift, he draws with ease, a winter wonderland. Landscape sketched from memory, heavens and land entwine Rapidly the scene is set, exquisitely divine.
Pine trees reaching tall and proud, like statues standing still. There is no wind to speak of, more an icy winter chill. Strong branches dusted with the snow stretch their fingers high As if welcoming the blanket bequeathed by the darkened sky.
Crisp snowflakes twirl like dancers, pirouetting to and fro, Waltzing to their silent tune toward the ground below. Pale moonlight generously showers diamonds all around. Its treasure glints and sparkles upon the hardened ground.
Snowfall in shades of silver envelops the land below, Lighting up the darkness with its soothing, gentle glow. Mellow in its nature, no preference where it lays, Takes refuge where and when it can, throughout the winter days.
Though bereft of colour is the scene, prevailing grey and white, Its awe inspiring beauty is apparent day and night. Who nonchalantly paints this scene, for all on earth to share? His strokes proficient every time, precise and so aware. Jack Frost paints wondrous pictures with his palette of frozen dew, Then stands back when his work is done and proudly admires the view.