Monday, July 25, 2011

A vigil in Seattle for victims of the Norwegian tragedy

The Nordic Heritage Museum will be holding a vigil on Tuesday, July 26 at 6:00 pm to honor the victims of the terror attack in Norway.
There will be a moment of silence and an offering of prayers for the victims of the Oslo attack.
Please join the Honorary Consul of Norway, Kim Nesselquist, and others as we remember the victims of this tragedy. This is the time for all of us to come together, there is strength in community.
Our hearts go out to all who have been affected by this tragedy.
[from Eric Nelson, CEO, Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle]

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Online Exhibit of Johan Turi's Life and Work in Norway

In honor of the anniversary of the publication in 1910 of Johan Turi's narrative about the Sami, Norway's State Archives presents this digital exhibit about Turi. The introduction is in Norwegian or English. Most of the text is in Sami. The illustrations and photos speak for themselves.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Johan Turi's Book --Muitalus sámiid birra--New Sámi Edition

To mark the hundred-year anniversary last year of the publication of Johan Turi's classic narrative, Muitalus sámiid birra, a revised edition came out in 2010 from the academic press, CálliidLágádu, based in Karasjok, Norway. The editor, Mikael Svonni, is a Sámi professor now at the University of Tromsø. Svonni went back to the notebooks in which Turi originally wrote down his stories, memories, and thoughts and re-transcribed them, taking out added punctuation, and restoring a different kind of flow. 

Mikael Svonni was kind enough to give copies of this edition to everyone who presented at the International Conference on Johan Turi in March this year in Tromsø. I can't read Sámi but I'm happy to look at the text and illustrations of a book that's meant a lot to me.
Muitalus sámiid birra was originally composed in 1908 with the encouragement of the Danish artist and later ethnographer Emilie Demant Hatt, who had spent fifteen months in Lapland and spoke Sámi. She took these notebooks back to Denmark with her, transcribed them, and translated them with the help of Anders Pedersen and Vilhelm Thomsen, two philologists. The final book was published in an innovative bilingual edition in Danish and Sámi. It was soon translated to German and eventually to English and several other languages. It's currently being re-translated into English by Thomas DuBois of the University of Wisconsin.

This beautiful new large-format edition also includes the original artwork in the 1910 edition, etchings of Turi's sketches of reindeer and Sámi herders, often drawn as if seen from above, along with other paintings by Turi.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Olive Murray Chapman

I had a call the other day from a TV producer in England. He was interested in what I knew about the British travel writer Olive Murray Chapman as his company was in the process of possibly creating a segment on her winter travels in Lapland for a documentary series on women adventurers. In the thirties Chapman visited a variety of countries and wrote books about her travels––Iceland, Cyprus, Madagascar, and Lapland––books that included photographs and watercolors. 

"The Lapp Market at Bossekop", watercolor by Olive Murray Chapman

Her book, Across Lapland with Sledge and Reindeer (1932) was one of the historical sources for my own book, The Palace of the Snow Queen. I liked Chapman’s courage and spirit. She set off alone by ship from England to Oslo (“The North Sea in February can be very unpleasant”) and then took a train north to Trondheim, the coastal steamer up to Hammerfest, and then a smaller boat down to Alta. Her intention was to visit the “Lapp market” traditionally held in Bossekop outside Alta, and then drive a reindeer pulka into the interior of Finnmark. While her views on the Sámi now seem outdated, Chapman made an attempt to summarize her observations and reading for the general reader and does a credible job. Her description of the Bossekop winter market is valuable, given that with the occupation of Norway by German forces in 1940, the centuries-old tradition came to an end and was never revived.

I pulled out her slender book to reread her accounts of the intense cold and the striking beauty of the Arctic in late winter when the sun is returning and it brought back many memories of my own journey—unhappily by dogsled—over sections of the Finnmark Plateau. I wish I’d had her furs and her “leather flying helmet” (I imagine Amelia Earhart traveling by reindeer) on my trip but I didn’t envy Chapman the blizzard she encountered on her way to Mollesjok fjellstue. Having been at Mollesjok during the last days of December years ago, I can attest that the tourist cabin, while not any more luxurious than seventy years ago, was still a very welcome sight to our group, just as it was to Chapman as she imagined "the joyous thought of warmth, food, and shelter..."