The Jokkmokk Market above the Arctic Circle is a three plus day event February 4-6 that takes place every year--and has for 400 years. In the past Sami gathered in Jokkmokk, Sweden to barter and sell, to pay taxes, and to attend church. Now the Market is a cultural feast of music, arts, lectures, films, and lots of outdoor activities as well. See more at http://www.jokkmokksmarknad.se/
This year on Friday, February 5, at 11:30 a.m. I'll be talking (indoors, in the museum) about the Danish ethnographer and artist Emilie Demant Hatt. I'm excited to share my research and show slides of her beautiful paintings. Please join me in Jokkmokk if you like cold, frost, and hot drinks, as well as a chance to experience some of the best of Sami culture today.
Just outside Oslo, on the island of Bygdøy, stands the Norwegian
Museum of Cultural History, the Norsk
Folkemuseum. Founded in 1894 to collect, preserve, and display all manner
of Norwegian domestic items, from clothing to butter churns, the grounds also
contain dozens of buildings from every part of Norway: original houses, barns, and
churches, from the humble to the grand, disassembled and reconstructed and now
scrupulously maintained. It’s the largest open-air museum in Norway and one of
the earliest in the world. Here (especially on a warm summer’s day) it’s lovely
to stroll among the mountainfarm seters and stave churches, set among meadows and birch trees. The Folkemuseum also houses its collections,
some of which go back to the 1500s, indoors in climate-controlled rooms.
Artifacts collected from the Sami people in Norway weren’t part
of the original scheme for the museum. Their clothing and objects of daily use
were instead the nucleus of the University of Oslo’s Ethnographic Museum,
displayed with artifacts from people around the world. Not until 1951 was the
Sami collection transferred to the Folkemuseum
“with the aim of placing the Sami on a more equal footing with other
Norwegian citizens.” The assemblage of 2600 objects was augmented by further
collecting, not only of objects but of photographs and audio recordings of the Sami
language and joiks. Today the collection consists of some 4500 catalog numbers.
That collection is about to be halved. Since the 1970s, when
the Sami began to organize politically in a more confrontative manner than
before, relations between the Norwegian state and its Sami citizens have
shifted considerably. The aims of the Sami, to be regarded as an indigenous
people with legal and moral rights to land, language, and cultural heritage,
have been widely debated in Norway, but have resulted in a number of reforms
and new initiatives. Along with the establishment of Sami museums and cultural centers
around the country came discussions of repatriating Sami artifacts. These
discussions weren’t limited to Norway—it’s been a subject of great interest in
other Nordic countries with a Sami minority as well as internationally—but
Norway has moved ahead now with a concrete plan to divide its collection, with
50% to remain at the Folkemuseum and
50% to be returned, with full ownership rights, to the six Sami museums,
depending on the geographic origin of the objects.
Árran Lule Sami
The process of selecting the objects began in late 2015 and
will continue throughout 2016. In some cases, the transfer depends on upgrading
facilities at the Sami museums and dealing with problems associated with
earlier preservation techniques, which included the use of toxic substances and
pesticides. The Norwegian state will be funding most of the project, “in
accordance with the country’s obligations towards the Sami as in indigenous
people.” The project is meant to be completed in 2017.
The project is called Bååstede,
which means “return” in the South Sami language.