Adventure, Animals, Arctic, Awareness, Beauty, Buddhism, Dharma, Dzogchen, Everyday life, Film, Health, Heritage, Indigenous, Landscape, People, Photography, Saami, Uralic, Vajrayana, Yoga

November in photos

The sky is always so colourful right before polarnight sets in
Early in November
An important topic and film (“The silence in Sápmi”) Saw it in the cinema, I think it will be put online later.
Made some Christmas decor with our son ❤️
From high up! Propeller plane ride from Arctic to Southern Finland ❄️🤍🌌
His third plane ride, and he isn’t even two!
Amrita Mandala yoga retreat
20+ people in person and online, practising yoga-dharma together for 4 days.
In Porvoo
Me doing Dzogchen Metta practice with Jenna ✨️
Photo of calender I printed with my own photos. These are for June, because they were taken in June at midnight.
I chose this photo for March because that is when these little birdies return.
11 am 💜💛🤍

Soon we enter December and thus the last month of 2022. Hope you are all staying warm and safe, and that Christmas is not a source of stress, but a time for relaxing and magic ✨️❄️

Adventure, Arctic, Art, Awareness, Beauty, Chronic illness, Culture, DIY, Duodji, Everyday life, Hair, Health, Indigenous, Jewellery, Knitting, Landscape, Make-Up, Neurological, Outfit, People, Photography, Photoshoot, Quotes, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Self portrait, Sewing, Spirituality, Uralic

My creative energy

Can I just say, this is the best photo anyone has ever taken of me? Susann, thank you for capturing my essence. Here I am wearing a headdress and silk liidni I sewed myself, and the gákti summer dress is made by Nadezda Johnsen.
Autumn wind…🧡🍂🙌🏼
Life is a lot of chopping wood and carrying water… I think that is how the saying goes 😉

“Your healing journey will, of course, include a consideration and use of all the best tools modern medicine can offer you, as well as the best tools holistic healing can offer you. From a deeper perspective, illness is caused by unfulfilled longing. The deeper the illness, the deeper the longing. It is a message that somehow, somewhere, you have forgotten who you are and what your purpose is. You have forgotten and disconnected from the purpose of your creative energy from your core. Your illness is the symptom: The disease represents your unfulfilled longing. So above all else, use your illness to set yourself free to do what you have always wanted to do, to be who you have always wanted to be, to manifest and express who you already are from your deepest, broadest, and highest reality. If indeed you have discovered yourself to be ill, prepare yourself for change, expect your deepest longing to surface and to be brought to fruition. Prepare yourself to finally stop running and turn and face the tiger within you, whatever that means to you in a very personal way. I suggest the best place to start to find the meaning of your illness is to ask yourself: “What is it that I have longed for and not yet succeeded in creating in my life?”’ (From Barbara Brennan’s book Emerging Light)

Adventure, Arctic, Art, Awareness, Beauty, Dharma, Everyday life, Finnmark, Indigenous, Landscape, People, Photography, Poems, Relationship, Saami, Sámi, Self portrait, Spirituality, Uralic, Yoga

A thimbleful of light

“Darkness, no matter how ominous and intimidating, is not a thing or force: it is merely the absence of light. So light need not combat and overpower darkness in order to displace it – where light is, darkness is not. A thimbleful of light will therefore banish a roomful of darkness. The same is true of good and evil: evil is not a thing or force, but merely the absence or concealment of good. One need not ‘defeat’ the evil in the world; one need only bring to light its inherent goodness.”

– Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Arctic, Awareness, Beauty, Culture, Everyday life, Finnmark, Hair, Health, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Photography, Photoshoot, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Self portrait, Sewing, Uralic, Vajrayana, Yoga

What that means to me

Vajra brocade jacket in green and gold I was lucky to find in local second hand store. It is handmade, too, wonder who made it and gave it away.

I wanted to make a post on the physical body. I have noticed in social media a trend called ‘body positivity’, and I wanted to share my own version of what that means to me:

  • Knowing that my body is made from the natural elements and is a result of thousands of generations
  • Reminding myself that all my cells are working hard to keep me alive every day
  • Eating traditional sustainable foods that my body easily turn into energy
  • Deep sleep and meditation to give body healing and vitality
  • Practice prayer and mantras to help body get rid of karmic traces stored inside the cells
  • Strength training to keep joints stable and posture straight
  • Keeping in mind how ancestors lived, and how they treated their bodies
  • Reminding myself to breathe with my belly, through nose and keeping my tongue in the roof of mouth, while jaw relaxed, as this feels most natural and it makes body relax
  • Tapping into body’s innate healing powers if I feel sick
  • Feeling how the body is an anchor that exists and keeps us in the present moment

Maybe I could add more later. What would you add? Thanks for reading, have a lovely day. -M

Adventure, Arctic, Awareness, Beauty, Everyday life, Indigenous, Landscape, People, Photography, Photoshoot, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Sewing, Tromsø, Uralic

Photo series: Arctic summer, pt 1

My mum staring into the ocean 💙
Little flowers in the sand at our hidden secret beach.
Beach view.
Our son got to see and play with the ocean waves. He was kind of scared, but also curious!
Prestvannet / Báhpajávri
Some lotus like flowers at the Arctic Alpine botanic garden.
In the forest 💚
Some gorgeous tulips outside the Polar Museum in Tromsø.
My beautiful coffee bag sewn by duojár Inga Nilsen Eira. It’s made from reindeer skin, wool and cotton bands, and braided reindeer skin string. Perfect to bring my coffee on walks and trips ❤️
Arctic, Beauty, Chronic illness, Culture, Dharma, Finnmark, Health, Indigenous, Neurological, People, Photography, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Self portrait, Spirituality, Uralic

Forgetting who we are

“From the perspective of a healer, illness is the result of imbalance. Imbalance is a result of forgetting who you are. Forgetting who you are creates thoughts and actions that lead to an unhealthy lifestyle and eventually to illness.” – Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light

Healing can occur spontaneously and over time. The spirit has an innate ability and longing for healing, health and happiness. We can all access this healing ability, we just sometimes need some help to tap into that. Never think that healing is not an option for you, or that it’s too late. We can always be reminded of who we are, where our strength lies and how strong our spirits are.

I’d like to recommend 2 books that helped me: Healing back pain: the mind-body connection by Dr. John Sarno, and Hands of Light by Barbara Brennan.

Much healing love to anyone and everyone who needs it. -M

Pictured: me at age 10 ca., on a hiking trip with my family. 🖤

Arctic, Art, Beauty, Dharma, Everyday life, Hair, Indigenous, People, Photography, Sámi, Sápmi, Self portrait, Spirituality, Uralic, Vajrayana, Yoga

The real you remains..

Emotions make us act and feel in strange ways

But the real you remains unchanged

Experiences and challenges shape us, like pots of clay on a spinning table

Still, the real you remains untouched

Illness, pain and grief chip away our vital energy

Even so, the real you remains ever so vibrant

Death arrives, entering without knocking

Yet, the real you remains.

A poem I wrote today, while contemplating impermanence. ❤️

Anthropology, Arctic, Awareness, Culture, Duodji, Finnmark, Genealogy, Landscape, People, Photography, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Sewing, Spirituality, Tromsø, Uralic

We Are Uralic

Who are Uralians and Ugrians? We are different peoples with unique cultures and common linguistic roots, stretching from Russia, over Siberia and the Ural mountains, into Scandinavia. Some have moved further south, like the Hungarians. Many of us live Arctic and sub-Arctic lives and livelihoods. Many of us also have lost our traditional cultures and language.

We are Sámis, Kvens, Finns, Karelians, Khantys, Maris, Mansis, Nganasans, Nenets, Komis, Tornedalians, Selkups, and many more. I tried to add a small variety of photos from our community below.

Uralic clothing vary from boys and girls/men and women, and is usually made just to fit the climate. Sewing patterns are often kept within the family and only used by the ethnic group and not outsiders. Summers can get pretty warm, and winters of course get extremely cold, so there are different garments for the seasons. More text and a poem below 😊

The Arctic circle and some coastal settlements. Uralians live mainly in Europe and Eurasia.
Nganasan womens pants and shoes. (C) Bryan and Cherry Alexander, Arcticphoto.com
A group of two Nganasan men and three women in traditional dress outside a hut at a camp on the Kheta River. Taimyr, Northern Siberia, Russia. 2004. © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography. Arcticphoto.com
Mansi girls in traditional clothing and shawls. Credit: unknown.
Rita Morokova, a young Selkup woman, at a summer camp in the taiga. Krasnoselkup, Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia
© Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography. Arcticphoto.com
Nora Ollila in traditional Kven dress. Kvens are Finns who emigrated to Finnmark, Arctic Norway. Very few speak Kven nowadays. Three out of my eight great grandparents were Kven.
Nenets women with pelt clothing and head scarfs.
Traditional Karelian dress from Republic of Karelia. Located between Finland and Russia.
Anne Bull in a pesk made from reindeer hide, and silver jewellery. Sámi woman.
Skolt Sámi headdress for married woman to the left. I took this photo at Ä’vv skolt sami museum in Neiden, Arctic Norway. There are different headdresses depending on your marital status.
Tundra summer life. Nenet women and toddlers.
Khanty women in traditional dress at a Spring festival in the village of Pitlyar. Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia© Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography. Arcticphoto.com
Vassilly Longortov, an elderly Khanty man, out fishing in his boat on the Synya River. Yamal, Western Siberia, Russia. © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography. Arcticphoto.com
Mari children, photographed by Dima Komarov. See full photo series here.
Sámi men in Guovdageaidnu, Arctic Norway. Wearing pesk/finnmudd/beaska. Blue wool gákti on the 4th man. The four pointed hat is Northern Sámi. Photo by Sophus Tromholt.
Mikkel Gaup in pelt clothing. Sámi. From the classic movie The Pathfinder, one of my favourite movies.
Mikkel Josefsen Näkkälä. Reindeer herder. Colorised by Per Ivar Somby. Photo by Sophus Tromholt.
Nganasan toddlers and women in traditional clothes. Nganasans are Uralics from the Samoyedic branch, native to Taimyr, Siberia.
Guovdageaidnu Sámis, Norway. Gáktis and pesks. Women wear chest silver risku for protection. Gáktis are Sámi dresses that vary from each region. The more colour, the better.
Duodji handcraft by Hilde Marie Lund. Coffee bag with The Shaman with Drum symbol. The small mug is a miniature version of a guksi. Duodji can be translated to “beautiful things made practical”.
Shot from Kautokeino-opprøret. Wearing pesks and reindeer gákti. Arctic Norway.
Sámi languages/tribes. This map shows part of Scandinavia, Finland and Western Russia.
Siberian child at the Ä’vv skolt Sámi museum in Neiden i visited in 2018.
Arctic languages. Uralic in orange. Great map. For more high resolution map go here. Also, they are looking to complete the map with more information on dialects, please let them know on the link too if you have somehing to add!
Komse/giekta for baby.
Komi women in winter clothing.
Nenet woman in reindeer clothing with traditional decor. Reindeer sled.
Nenet man and women in traditional winter clothing.
Nenet girls/young women hairstyle called ta’ne.
Mansi woman in traditional clothing. The chest piece and shoe decor is beaded.
Credit: khanty_mansi_mir on instagram
My skaller/nuvttohat sewn by a friend of my grandmother for me when i was little. They are so well used, but taken care of except one small whole i need to fix.. They are made from reindeer hide and leather. Wool insides.. Very warm, only for dry snow use, but too small for me now… Time to pass them on to our son ❤💙💛🧡

Usually, if not always, ethnic European and Eastern/Eurasian (Arctic) clothing has specific designs for women, men, girls and boys. Practical, warm and distinguishable; usually a bit, or vastly, different for each region. Often bright colours and intrinsic details. Made from the immediate surroundings; wool and animals. Sometimes silk. Giving the wearer a place and belonging; need only look at a persons clothes to know where they, or where their parents are from. Sewing patterns are often kept within the family only. Nowadays however, many native outfits are only used a few times a year for special occasions due to many people moving into the city and/or the boarding schools, and designs are evolving with the new creative youth, creating new ideas and identities, which is normal and expected. But traditional sewing skills are sadly not being taught that much from early age.

Clothing is important. No store bought garment sewn by a machine can measure with an outfit that contains your ancestry and history in every stitch. Many nowadays are also lucky to have more than one ancestry and thus more wardrobe options! Many have lost their native language(s) and feel like a “poser” if they use them or sew them, perhaps scared of getting strange looks or be called names, but I will forever argue that we should wear it like our own skin, because it is a birthright of sorts.

Every two weeks a language dies with its last speaker, 50 to 90 percent of them are predicted to disappear by the next century (source for the statistic: National Geographic). For example; 35 out of 38 Uralic languages are endangered or critically endangered due to assimilation and globalisation. Many Uralics live Arctic lives and livelihood in Europe and Eurasia. Herding, fishing and hunting. Linguistics say there used to be at least (!) 31 000 languages in the human history, now we are down to around 6000, and it is declining every fortnight. This makes sewing and using our traditional dresses even more important.

Keep sewing and keep teaching children traditional skills. They will thank you down the line, I am sure of that.

Thank for reading. I will end this post with a poem by Ingrid Mollenkopf from her book ‘Between Sleeps: Uralic Poetry’:

“Petals do fall on the grass beneath my feet

Do they remember their days among the branches?

Do they remember

All the world’s sweet breezes

Brushing their fibers

Carrying their good scent afloat?

As I remember

My youth

Among my people

Do we remember

The colors and voices

Moving our instincts guiding our every moment?” 🌺

Beauty, Culture, Duodji, Everyday life, Finnmark, Indigenous, Outfit, People, Photography, Photoshoot, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Tromsø, Uralic

Lihkku beivviin – Happy National Day

Me, our son and my friend and relative ❤ Láhppigákti. Coastal Sámi.
💙💛❤
Hat and traditional shawl made by me ❤💛
Traditional knit by his father’s mother. Belt is supposed to be on hips, but not easy when he is moving like a little maggot 🪱😄

Today, we celebrated the Sámi National Day, Feb 6th.

I have Kven/Finnish, Norwegian and Sámi heritage, and love to celebrate what I can while I can. I am deeply thankful for my connection to my heritage and my own heart, and wish you all the best 2022 possible.

May all beings be free ✨

Animals, Anthropology, Arctic, Art, Awareness, DIY, Duodji, Finnmark, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Photography, Photoshoot, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

More special?

“People wearing their national dresses symbolise unity. A research conducted on this subject showed that youngsters wearing traditional clothes, irrespective of western pressure, had fewer behavioural and emotional problems. The reason being that they are in touch with their ancestral culture, religion and traditions and thus not confused about their identity or who they are.” Makes sense to me; feeling like you belong and have a community is very important. Nowadays, I think many of us feel a part of many different groups, because we live in a globalised world, and clothing can be changed, thus changing your identity. Maybe that makes our traditional and national dresses even more special? ❤

Here is the link to the study for anyone interested. It also sheds a light on the dangers of not allowing indigenous peoples to use and wear their own clothings, as we have seen happen all over the world.

Sámi man in gákti with reindeer pants and mittens. The shoes are nuvttohat, skaller, nutukas.. many names for same shoe. Different languages and dialects. Photo by Lola A. Akerström
Kautokeino Sámis. Guovdageaidnu in Northern Sámi language. Wearing pesks and gáktis. With traditional shawls, belts, mittens and hats. Northern Lapland/Sápmi.
Khanty woman Kristina Neva and baby in reindeer clothing with decor. Summer on the Arctic tundra. Photo by Bryan and Cherry Alexander.

Both Sámis and Khantys are Uralic peoples.

Arctic, Culture, Everyday life, Finnmark, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Sápmi, Tromsø, Uralic

Missing something I never had

Feeling the Sunday blues today, and felt like sharing some thoughts I have had for some time now. I hope I manage to articulate myself in a good manner, and hoping to hear others’ view on this as well 🙂

I feel it is so important to have a sense of community and identity. A tribe of sorts. In fact, we all did up until very, very recently. You could even tell what area or region people were from by their clothing. The way they proudly wore their identity and sense of community. It is so rare nowadays that tourists will literally pay thousands to witness authentic indigenous way of life.

A wedding photo from my family tree, many generations ago in Finnmark.

It sounds silly, but I miss that. I have never had it, but I miss it. I miss traditional everyday dresses and stronger traditions. I miss women being more supported with raising children by their community. Not feeling alone in our experience. We are not supposed to raise kids alone. We are not supposed to not work together and to not rely on each other. When we don’t have that community around us, we get consumed by loneliness and loss of purpose. Just think about how wonderful it feels to have a good friend or a family member who truly cares. We are utterly dependent on our safety net.

The globalisation we see today has come at a great cost. Every month, the world loses indigenous languages. Every week, less natural surroundings and every day people feel more cut off from each other, and Mother Earth. Where will we end up? Even our diets are globalised, getting adviced to eat the same here in the European Arctic as they do in warm climates. That is not sustainable. That is not what have been practiced for thousands of generations, and what our bodies are used to.

I do not wish to naively say that all things were better before, because I do not believe that they were. I do, however, think we have lost something very precious along the way, at least in my part of the world. People who wish to reclaim their sense of community and identity sometimes even feel like a fraud or a fool for ‘taking back’ something they never personally had.

I believe that the trauma experienced by virtually all humans today by having our way of life so dramatically changed in such a short timespan, needs great healing. And only we can do that job ourselves; in our own hearts and minds.

Thank you for reading, may all beings be free and happy ❤ May communities heal and may we take better care of the planet 🌎

Arctic, Awareness, Beauty, Culture, Dharma, Dzogchen, Everyday life, Self portrait, Uralic, Vajrayana, Yoga

A shift in attention

“Regardless of the emotion being experienced — be it desire, anger, pride, jealousy, envy, greed, or whatever — what is really going on is a shift in attention.  The mind is expressing itself in a different way. Nothing implicitly requires one to presume that this emotion has any reality in and of itself… It is just that the mind is expressing itself in a different way than it was a moment ago.” – Kalu Rinpoche

Photos from late autumn when it was still a bit warm. Woke up today to the first snowfall of the year!

Arctic, Beauty, Buddhism, Dharma, Everyday life, Landscape, People, Photography, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Self portrait, Tromsø, Uncategorized, Uralic, Vajrayana, Yoga

Namo Isha Ja – Guided meditation

A heart opening guided meditation session led by Kim Rinpoche.

October night sky a few weeks ago 💙🍂

If we know our hearts and our own natural state, we will also simultaneously know how to love and care. Not only for others but for ourselves and our difficult emotions. Life is so full of difficult emotions, as we know. Compassion and forgiveness is always with you, like a silent friend.

Thank you for reading and still following my blog. It is most appreciated. My posts are very sporadic, as time flies by with the new baby. Long days but short weeks. Not enough hours to get it all done, and not enough hours to just enjoy him – this new little person that runs our lives now. Motherhood is equally hard as it is wonderful. I hope to get more painting and other artsy projects into my days again.

Anthropology, Arctic, Beauty, Culture, Finnmark, Genealogy, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Photography, Uralic

Happy World’s Indigenous Peoples Day

Yesterday was World Indigenous peoples day, so I share this wonderful portrait of my relative Johannes from 6 generations ago. Wearing a pesk/finnmudd. I think we have the same nose, and eyebrows. I look forward to teach our son about his ancestors. It was a black-white photo by S. Trombolt but Per I. Somby colorised it. #ArcticPeople #Uralic

Indigenous means ‘naturally occuring’. Someone or something that ‘belongs’ to a place, and who is living in harmony with the natural surroundings. A part of the local ecosystem. The natural world belongs to us ALL, we need to treat it with respect and appreciation to be able to continue living in it sustainably. Always give more than you take, even if it is “just” gratefulness.

Where was or is your ancestors indigenous to? Do you feel as a part of the natural surroundings?

Small tip on how to feel more connected to the natural world: consciously focus and feel into the knowing of being held and supported by the Earth and gravity. See if you can completely relax into that knowing and if you can trust that you are safe and being held.

Adventure, Animals, Arctic, Dharma, Dzogchen, Everyday life, Finnmark, People, Photography, Quotes, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Self portrait, Uralic

An open heart is the best medicine

“Practice being here until ‘now’ disappears. Dwell nowhere. Be beneficial to others, and you will lack nothing. Flash open your heart. Be a child of wonder, playing with generosity. Floating in a sea of billions of universes, whatever that is, “That” is all we are. It is as much out there, as it is in here. How amazing. Trade in all your wrongs, injustices, hurts, and fears for mercy, hope, compassion, and kindness. An open heart is the best medicine, open it a little more with every breath. Be like a little kid, running with Wonder, “What is this?” – words by Tilopa, the mahasiddha.

Photo from way back when. I used to love horses but now I must admit being a bit scared of them 😄🙈

How is your spring going?🌻 Myself, I am very busy with the new mama life. Barely time to write this post 😄🙏🏻 It’s hard, wonderful and all worth it.

Will be back with more photographies and updates soon. xx Monica

Arctic, Art, Beauty, Duodji, Everyday life, Finnmark, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

Our true nature

Our sweet little boy 🖤 My wool sweater knitted by grandma.

Being a mama has really opened my heart, not just for our child, but for all children. I have always loved the little new humans obviously, but being a parent takes it to another level somehow. Truly an automatic bodhicitta practice; infinite love and boundless compassion – our true nature.

Here are some beautiful motherhood art pieces I really like. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! 🥰

Art by Germaine Arnaktauyok, “Quiet Time”, 2005
Art by Mayoreak Ashoona, “Matching braids”, 1991
Art by Emily Kewageshig
Art by Alanah Jewell

How has motherhood changed you? Has it opened your heart (more)?

Arctic, Beauty, Culture, Finnmark, Genealogy, Heritage, Indigenous, People, Photography, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

Family portraits from 138 years ago

Ellen
Johan (he went to Usa)
Brita and Anne
Johannes
Mikkel

Wanted to share these amazing old family portraits from our family tree 😊🎄 Taken in 1882. Exactly 110 years before I was born 😄 Six generations back in time.*

This is one of the many reasons I love photography 🙌🏻 Colourised and brought to life by Per Ivar Somby recently. (Not the best quality because I took with my phone).

*
Anthropology, Arctic, Awareness, Culture, Genealogy, Heritage, Indigenous, List, Outfit, People, Photography, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

Endangered and extinct: Sámi languages today

Photo coloured by Per Ivar Somby. In the photo: Brita Somby, wearing traditional dress (gakti) with traditional wool shawl.


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. Sámis are indigenous to Sápmi and Northern Europe, our heritage and ancestry traces back to Ural mountains, Siberia.

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.

Title: Samiske barn undervises i norsk / Sámi children learning norwegian
Opphaver: Fotograf Sverre A. Børretzen
Rettighetshaver: Leverandør NTB scanpix


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.

Approx distribution of the languages/dialects today. The biggest blue area is mainly Troms and Finnmark.

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.

Sámi name for Bodø not welcome, 2011.

*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.”

Sápmi flag by artist Astrid Båhl from Skibotn, Troms. Photo: Ørjan Bertelsen


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.

Unlike the Indo-European languages spoken in most of Europe, the Sámi languages belong to the Uralic language family, and are most closely related to the Baltic-Finnic branch, which includes Finnish, Hungarian and Estonian, although opinions vary as to the closeness of the relationship.
Photo I took at the main square in Tromsø 2019. Demonstration against violence and discrimination towards sámi.

Sámi women and a man in Sweden. Colourised photo by Per Ivar Somby.
Many young Sámis today use the traditional handwoven wool shawl as an everyday garment in a more urban way in order to still show our Sámi identity, and belonging. I think it’s a small yet beautiful act. Wool shawls like this are however sold commercially many places as well. (Photo by NatGeo of Jokkmokk Sámi Ella-Li Spik, herder).

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.

Me keeping warm and optimistic about the future of the languages and culture.



Thanks for reading! xx


Sources and texts used in this post:

https://site.uit.no/sagastallamin/

http://www.sorosoro.org/en/sami-languages/#:~:text=Yes.,beginning%20of%20the%2021st%20century.

https://blogs.loc.gov/international-collections/2019/12/will-the-sami-languages-disappear/

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/saami-languages-present-and-future

Arctic, Beauty, Everyday life, Hair, Health, Indigenous, Landscape, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

Snart november

Fant meg en fin plass i fjæra til å meditere samt se på fargespillet på himmelen som alltid skjer nært mørketida.
Alle bildene er tatt med mobilen, så beklager kvaliteten 🙈
Frost 🍂
Pastellhimmel.
Regnbuefarger.
Kaldere vær betyr store jakker og ullsjal ❤ Er ikke så mange jakker som passer over magen lenger 😄🤰 Månedene flyr forbi, er allerede i siste trimester 💜🌌

Hvordan takler/liker du mørketida?

Anthropology, Arctic, Awareness, Culture, Genealogy, Indigenous, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Uralic

Ancient DNA shows the Sámi and Finns share identical Siberian genes

“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.

This article I am sharing is from phys.org

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.”

You can go to HERE to read the full article.

Some other Uralic/Finno-ugric peoples with roots from Ural mountains, 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 and of course traditionally being nomadic, following the reindeers, and sharing same langauge family. Maybe I will write a post on our traditional dresses.

These findings also makes sense with my own FamilyTreeDNA results, although commercial DNA test kits are not super accurate:

🙏🏼

Arctic, Art, Beauty, Culture, Dharma, DIY, Dzogchen, Everyday life, Genealogy, Indigenous, People, Photography, Photoshoot, Saami, Sámi, Sápmi, Sewing, Spirituality, Uralic, Vajrayana

Things that are yours to keep

Traditional headdress by me, shawl hand-me-down. Photo by Sebastian Wilches 2020.

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. 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.❤