SHARE
COPY LINK

SAMI

A YouTube salute to Sami National Day

As Sweden's indigenous Sami celebrate their National Day on February 6th, The Local offers up a few video clips highlighting their unique vocal traditions.

A YouTube salute to Sami National Day

February 6th is Sami National Day, marking the date in 1917 when the first Sami congress was held in Trondheim, Norway.

The holiday became official in 1992, when delegates at the 15th Sami Conference in Helsinki, Finland, passed a resolution calling for Sami National Day to be celebrated annually on February 6th.

The Sami inhabit large parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia referred to collectively as Sápmi and the Sami language is one of Sweden’s five officially recognized minority languages.

The Sami have a unique traditional singing style known as joik, thought to be one of the oldest music traditions in Europe.

An undated clip of a Sami man performing a traditional joik

In recent years, a number of Sami artists have also put a new twist on traditional folk music in order to bring it to new audiences.

Sami singer Máddji singing “Iđitguovssu” (Dawn Light) from her album “Beyond” (Sámi: “Dobbelis”)

Sami singer Sofia Jannok, who started performing joiks since she was 11-years-old, sings a “Liekkas” from her 2007 album “White” / Ceaskat.

In 2009, Sami singer Sofia Jannok took things a step further when she translated the Abba hit Waterloo into Sami and performed it as part of the 2009 Melodifestivalen song competition in Skellefteå.

For anyone interested in trying their hand at singing the Sami National Anthem, the following clip provides the melody, while an English translation of the lyrics can be found below.

Far up North ‘neath Ursa Major

Gently rises Samiland.

Mountain upon mountain.

Lake upon lake.

Peaks, ridges and plateaus

Rising up to the skies.

Gurgling rivers, sighing forests.

Iron capes pointing sharp

Out towards the stormy sea.

Winter time with storm and cold

Fierce blizzards.

Sami kin, with hearts and souls

Their lands do love.

Moonlight for the traveller,

Living Aurora flickering,

Grunt of reindeer heard in groves of birch,

Voices over lakes and open grounds,

Swish of sled on winter road.

Summer’s sun casts golden hues

On forests, seas and shores.

Fishermen in gold, swaying

With the golden seas, golden lakes.

Silver Sami rivers gurgling

’round sparkling poles, shining oars.

Singing, men float down

Rapids, great and small,

And waters calm.

Samiland’s people

With unbending strength

Defeated killing enemies, bad trades,

Sly and evil thieves.

Hail thee, tough Sami kin!

Hail thee, root of freedom!

Never was there battle,

Never brother’s blood was spilled

Amongst the peaceful Sami kin.

Our ancestors long ago

Trouble makers did defeat.

Let us, brothers, also resist

Staunchly our oppressors.

Oh, tough kin of the sun’s sons,

Never shall you he subdued

If you heed your golden Sami tongue,

Remember the ancestors’ word.

Samiland for Sami!

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SAMI

Swedish museum to return Sami remains to village

Uppsala's university museum is to return a Sami skeleton to ethnic Sami living in Arctic Lapland, following a campaign by the Sami parliament, Amnesty, and the Bishop of Luleå.

Swedish museum to return Sami remains to village

The skeleton came from a Sami from the village of Arjeplog in Sweden’s northernmost Norrbotten county, who was serving a life sentence at Stockholm’s Långholmen prison when he died. The skeleton had been on display at Gustavianum, Uppsala University’s Museum. 

“The government has today decided that Uppsala University should be able to return human remains, in the form of a mounted skeleton, to the Arjeplog Sami association,” the government said in a press release.

“The university’s request has been prompted by a request from the Arjeplog Sami association requesting the repatriation of the remains. Uppsala University has determined that Arjeplog’s Sami association has a legitimate claim on the remains and that the association will be able to ensure a dignified reception.” 

Sweden’s universities and museums have been gradually returning the Sami remains and artefacts collected in the 19th and early 20th century when research institutes such as Uppsala’s State Institute for Race Biology, sought to place Sami below ethnic Swedes through studying eugenics and human genetics. 

Lund University returned Sami remains earlier this year, and in 2019, the remains of more than 25 individuals were returned by Västerbotten Museum to Gammplatsen, an old Sami meeting place on the Umeå River in southern Lapland. 

Mikael Ahlund, chief of the Uppsala University Museum, said that the skeleton was one of “about 20 to 25” that the museum had been given responsibility for in about 2010, when the university’s medical faculty was clearing out its old collections, and had never been put on display. 

He said it was “a bit unclear how these remains were collected and how they were used”. 

“It’s a complex history at the end of the 19th century, with teaching anatomy. They also had a connection to the ideology of the period, the idea of races and the different anatomy of races, so that’s the dark shadow of that period.” 

In a press release last November, Margaretha Andersson, the head of Uppsala’s Museums, said that in 1892, when the man died, there was nothing strange about prisons donating the bodies of dead prisoners to university medical departments.

“In the old days, it was not unusual that the bodies from people who died in prison were passed to the university’s medical and research departments,” she said. 

Ahlund said that the museum had always been willing to return the skeleton to the Sami association, but that there had been bureaucratic hurdles to doing so. 

“What you need to know is that we are Swedish government institution, so we can’t just repatriate them as we would like ourselves, it needs to be a decision from the government, which is what happened today.” 

He said that the skeleton would be delivered to Arjeplog “as soon as possible”. “We expect it to happen early autumn, or something like that.”

SHOW COMMENTS