Laura Ricketts Designs

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Laura Ricketts Designs is a personal and business website for Laura Ricketts, hand-knitwear designer, author, teacher, crafter, mother and wife.

Filtering by Tag: Sámi

Karasjok, the Sámi political capitol in Norway

Wednesday morning dawned bright and early.  I ate my expensive breakfast, bought by myself in the expensive grocery the night before, packed up the car and left. 

Off I went down the road I had journeyed up and down the previous three days. I said good bye to the little fishing villages, and the church at Nesseby. 

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I right past the Tana museum in Polmak again, taking a quick sidetrip to cross the Tana bridge.  The various bridges across the Tana are a big deal: until 60 years ago, there weren't even roads in the area. 

Just past Polmak was the Finnish border.  That's right.  Even though I started off in Norway and my destination for the day was in Norway, borders are very close in this area.  Mountains, rivers and other formations, often make it quicker to go through a neighboring country. Crossings are easy and swift.  In fact, in the three weeks I was overseas, I went in and out of 10 countries, and the only time my passport was asked for in Europe was in Berlin, Germany on my layover on the way home.  But, that's another story. 

Welcome, Finland! 

Tana bridge

Tana bridge

The speed trap on the eastern side of the Tana bridge.  I didn't participate in the fun.

The speed trap on the eastern side of the Tana bridge.  I didn't participate in the fun.

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The Tana river is really quite beautiful.  It forms the northern border between Finland and Norway, and in this area is shallow and rocky.  The surrounding land is sheltered and excellent for farming, and unusual occupation this far north. 

The Tana river

The Tana river

The car I rented, a VW golf, had bluetooth capability, so I was able to play the songs on my phone over the stereo system. Occasionally, I found the automatic shuffle / song choice ironic.

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At Utsjoki, Finland, the very tippy-top of the country, I crossed another bridge, the twin of the Tana bridge, and went back to the Norwegian side.  Utsjoki was smaller than I expected: basically a school, grocery, gas station and several campsites. I made sure I used the cheaper gas station and grocery, then took off up and down the hills of Norway. 

I arrived in Karasjok around 11 and headed straight for the parliament building. Karasjok is a charming town.  

The Sámi parliament building in Karasjok, Norway

The Sámi parliament building in Karasjok, Norway

Roadway sign indicating the Sámi parliament building

Roadway sign indicating the Sámi parliament building

At the parliament building I met with a librarian I had been emailing back and forth for a couple years.  Kåre took me on a tour of the building, introduced me to colleagues, took me to the Sámi museum where his cousin, Berit Åse, showed me some amazing mittens, and then we had some coffee with other colleagues.

Back at the campsite, I had a very interesting conversation with a Irish shepherd, recently come to Karasjok to do 3 months of shearing. 

The parliament building as seen from the Prime Minister's seat

The parliament building as seen from the Prime Minister's seat

The Prime Minister's seat from the gallery

The Prime Minister's seat from the gallery

A handcraft shop in Karasjok that has a hilarious door covering that mimics a woman's cap.

A handcraft shop in Karasjok that has a hilarious door covering that mimics a woman's cap.

It was a very full day. Tomorrow would prove to be just as full, as I got up and drove to Alta, Norway.  Until then, knit fast, knit safe. 

A-hiking we will go!

*This post is about a trip I took last month* 

Later that day, I went for a walk along the Neiden river.   

Summer has been warm and long in Sapmi, the name for the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula of Russia -- the Sámi traditional homeland. At the end of the first week of September, fall was in full swing. Leaves were turning, there was a chill in the air in the morning.  The lingonberries and blueberries were ripe. 

Perfect time for a walk! 

The shoes I was forced to buy in Jokkmokk, because the airline lost my bag.   

The shoes I was forced to buy in Jokkmokk, because the airline lost my bag.

 

The Neiden river near Neiden, Norway

The Neiden river near Neiden, Norway

The Neiden river is important to the Skolt Sámi people.  St. Triphon, after killing his wife, wandered up this way and preached orthodoxy to the Sámi and blessed the water of the river. That was in the 1500s.  The Skolt Sámi still baptize in the river today. 

They also netted salmon hundreds of years ago.  It is still regarded as one of the best rivers in the region for salmon. 

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The first red toadstool I've ever seen!  There were no smurfs underneath.

The first red toadstool I've ever seen!  There were no smurfs underneath.

There were many more beautiful scenes which I could put here, but life intervenes. 

I walked back to the lodge.  Eeva and I had a nice last dinner together of reindeer, lingonberry sauce and vegetables. The Finnish cafe workers at this stua were very nice and pretty excited because this was the last weekend of the season. The next day, they went home to Ivalo. 

Mmmm. Reindeer!

Mmmm. Reindeer!

The next day, we got up and tidied, ate a nice breakfast and went to the Kirkenes airport.  Goodbye, Eeva!  Hello adventure alone. 

The Samisiida, the Finnish Sámi Museum, and Sajos, the Sámi Parliament

Friday morning dawned bright and early. Eeva went for a swim in the lake (brrr!). I opted for a more comfortable warm shower.  

We're here!   

We're here!

 

The view at the hostel

The view at the hostel

At 8am I was at the Samisiida museum with curator Aile Aikio. What a wonderful time! She and I had emailed quite a bit over a year ago, and I was quite looking forward to meeting her. Every once in awhile you meet someone who has the right job, enjoys it and excels at it. Aile is such a person. She has a finger on the pulse of the Inari community.  She interviews elderly in senior centers; she collects stories; she collects materials.  As a result, she has so much information about so many aspects of the Sámi life. One undesirable effect of this knowledge is "ethno-stress" -- the stress of knowing all the history and "right" ways to do things. Does the life of Sámi culture depend on them? Sometimes it feels so.  It can be a heavy weight to bear.

Happily, one area she knows much about are Sámi mittens from her area. Before I talk mittens, however, let me educate you about the Sámi in Finland. The museum had exhibits on both of the following sub-groups and had mittens from both as well.

The Sámi peoples have about 9 subgroups. Most of these subgroups have a wide land area. Only one of these sub-groups is within one country only, and that is the Inari Sámi.  They are found within Finland, around Lake Inari. They herd reindeer near the lake and enjoy other lake activities. Their national costume has green in it, not common with most other sub-groups.  Likewise, their mittens often have green.

The other Sámi sub-group mostly found within Finland, the Skolt Sámi, have their original homeland divided between Norway, Finland and Russia.  Approximately half of it is in Russia. Around 1935, they were instructed by the Russian government that the borders were closing: get out or stay. Most left, but were allowed back in a year later. 

In 1947, they were told again: get out or stay. Most left to Finland.  They have never been allowed back in. The majority of those who remained in Russia were collectivized and moved to the town of Lovozero.  Their reindeer were seized and collectivized as well. Much of their culture was destroyed. Less than 2,000 Skolt Sámi remain in Russia.

Of those that remained in Finland, many settled in Sevettijarvi, north of Lake Inari. You must understand, that the Skolt Sámi living in Russia for 100s of years were influenced by the Russian majority.  Many have Russian last names, wear Russian influenced outfits, and are Russian orthodox by faith. They, however, are not Russian. 

As a generality, Finns hate Russians.  The Finns have had bitter conflicts and many wars with their giant, overbearing neighbor to the East. Russia has so many people and so many resources compared to this small neighbor, so naturally, they almost always won. So, when Russian speaking Skolt Sámi fled to Finland, the Finns didn't exactly greet them with open arms. When Skolt Sámi moved near lake Inari, the Inari Sámi weren't exactly thrilled either. The Sámi peoples have been discriminated against by their majority cultures for over 100 years. Now the discrimination was within their community. As a result, the Skolt Sámi were treated as the lowest of the low.

Their culture is fascinating, though. Sevettijarvi has a beautiful small orthodox church, reindeer, lakes and birch trees.  The traditional women's costume includes the old horn hat, long skirts and shawls. The men wear Western dress and were the first of the Sámi peoples to drop traditional clothing. The women stopped wearing the reindeer skin leggings, and so became the only Sámi people to wear knit socks in the traditional costume. 

The Skolt Sámi have distinctive mittens.  Most of them are plain on the hand and patterned only on the cuff.  The patterning is every other stitch, with the stitch inbetween in the base color. Many of the patterns have names, as well: ptarmigan's foot, boat's bow, and netting. As you may guess, fishing and bird trapping are a part of everyday life.

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the museum.  Here are some pictures of the parliament building just around the corner.  I've read somewhere that it is shaped like a reindeer bone.

The Finnish Sami Parliament in Inari, Finland

The Finnish Sami Parliament in Inari, Finland

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Inside is a rather nice handcrafts shop with books, shawls, jewelry, CDs and knitting. 

Skolt socks

Skolt socks

Finnish mittens, River Sámi mittens, Inari mittens, and Swedish Lovikka mittens

Finnish mittens, River Sámi mittens, Inari mittens, and Swedish Lovikka mittens

We filled up on diesel, visited a small grocery and bought some food for the following days in Norway. I bought an "Angry Birds" candy for my eldest (Angry birds is one of Finland's biggest exports these days!).  Then, we loaded up and headed for the border. 

Tomorrow: Norway! 

An Adventure, cont'd

While in Minneapolis viewing the beautiful holdings at the American Swedish Institute...

reindeer skin pouch decorated with beads

reindeer skin pouch decorated with beads

Sámi gákti

Sámi gákti

woven bands on bells

woven bands on bells

knitted socks and mittens

knitted socks and mittens

birch bark bag

birch bark bag

...we did other fun Sámi things, like visit North America's first Sámi themed coffee house.  The Lavvu Coffee House is owned and operated by Chris Pesklo, a Minnesota native of Sámi ancestry, whose other jobs are lavvu builder and former Social Studies teacher.  His Lavvu website can be found at http://www.lavvu.com/index.html.  Lavvu are the tipi-like tents Sámi traditionally made and travel with.

North America's only Sámi inspired coffee house  Dinkytown, MN

North America's only Sámi inspired coffee house

Dinkytown, MN

lavvu coffee

lavvu coffee

knitting in the lavvu

knitting in the lavvu

working on a Sámi mitten in the coffee house 

working on a Sámi mitten in the coffee house 

We also visited Ikea for the first time.  Wow.  It's like furniture Disneyland!  We purchased a few things, and I briefly considered moving there.  

Tomorrow:  my first trip to Decorah, Iowa, and the motherland of all museums: The Vesterheim!