Thursday, March 28, 2019

By the Fire: Sami Folktales and Legends, collected and illustrated by Emilie Demant Hatt

Although Lappish wizards and magical reindeer are found in European folktale collections, stories told by the indigenous Nordic Sami themselves are less known in world literature. The sixty-odd tales in By the Fire, gathered first-hand by the Danish artist and ethnographer Emilie Demant Hatt (1873-1958) and originally published in 1922 in Denmark, are an exception. Between 1907 and 1916 Demant Hatt traveled through the mountains of Swedish Sápmi and occasionally Norway, recording tales of magic animals, otherworldly girls who marry Sami men, and cannibalistic ogres or Stallos. Many of her storytellers were women, and some of the most memorable tales in this collection tell of plucky girls and women who outfox their attackers—whether Russian bandits, mysterious Dog-Turks, or Swedish farmers—and save their people. 

By the Fire is shortly to come out from the University of Minnesota Press and will be available in bookstores and online around mid-April. The hardcover edition includes Demant Hatt’s original linoleum prints and an afterword by me.

It's been my pleasure to translate from Danish these stories collected and illustrated by Emilie Demant Hatt, as an addition to other titles I've published by and about this remarkable woman. But it's also been important to me to identify her original storytellers, to tell something of their lives, and to add their distinctive voices to Nordic folklore. I was able to research women like Anni Rasti from Karesuando and Margreta Bengtsson from Pite Sápmi, and to learn more about Sami resistance to colonization in South Sápmi in the folklore archives in Uppsala, Sweden, and at the Nordiska Museum in Stockholm, which holds Demant Hatt's field journals. These typed journals have a wealth of information on her sources as well as the originals of the folktales. 
Margreta Bengtsson (left) with her family, 1916 photo: EDH
In April and May I'll be doing events in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. In some places (Duluth, Minneapolis, Seattle so far), I'll be joined by one or two members of local Sami-American communities who will also read aloud stories from the collection. I hope some of you can join us!

April 14, 2019
1 PM
Daughters of Norway, Scout Cabin, 
Discovery Road, Port Townsend

May 01, 2019
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
A Room of One's Own, 315 W Gorham St., Madison, WI 53703

May 06, 2019
6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Scout & Morgan Books
Isanti County Historical Society, 33525 Flanders St. NE, Cambridge, MN 55008

May 07, 2019
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Spirit of the North Theatre at Fitgers Bookstore, Duluth, MN
Co-sponsored by the Sami Cultural Center of North America
With Laurel Sanders

May 08, 2019
6:00 PM to 08:00 PM
American Swedish Institute, Larson Hall, 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55407
With Tanley Lego

May 12, 2019
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Nordic Museum, 2655 NW Market St., Seattle, WA 98107
Co-sponsored by Pacific Sámi Searvi
With Julie Whitehorn and Mary Brandt

June 01, 2019
4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Village Books, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham, WA 98225

June 16, 2019
1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Scandinavian Cultural Center, PLU, Tacoma
Co-sponsored by Pacific Sámi Searvi