Marja-Leena Rathje
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about Báiki


Cover of issue 25 of Báiki, with image of sculpture: "NAA", © 2003 Rose-Marie Huuva, reindeer hide and sealskin

I recently received a copy of Báiki: the North American Sámi Journal, which 'is a major English-language source of information about Sámi arts, literature, history, spirituality, and environmental concerns. It also covers news of North American Sámi community events. "Báiki" [bah-h'kee] is the nomadic reindeer-herding society's word for cultural identity and survival, ''the home that lives in the heart. [...] Today the Sámi are incorporating new technologies into the revival of their language [and culture], and they are in the forefront of the worldwide post-colonial Indigenous renaissance. Moreover, having their own parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland, the Sámi relationship with their former colonizers is improving as well.'

There is a huge amount of fascinating information in the magazine and online. I'm surprised, for example, to learn that: 'At least 30,000 people of Sámi ancestry live in North America. Some are the descendants of Sámi people who emigrated to the United States and Canada as Norwegians, Swedes, and Finns and some are the descendants of "Lapp" herders from the Alaska Reindeer Project who introduced reindeer husbandry to the Inupiaq and Yup'ik peoples'. These latter people are featured in a travelling exhibit The Sámi Reindeer People of Alaska. I'm going to see this when it comes to Seattle next year.

Faith Fjeld is the founding editor and publisher based in Anchorage, Alaska, and has done an incredible and invaluable job in promoting the Sámi cultural revival with this beautiful biannual publication begun in 1991 and now in its 25th issue. The current issue's theme is "Sámi Identity in Art, Film, Music and Storytelling" with examples of works by many Sámi artists.

I'm excited by the wonderful abundance of inspiring material that has opened up for me. As regular readers may know, I have been slowly learning and writing about the Sámi or Saami (incorrectly called Lapps or Laplanders) branch of the Finno-Ugric family, the Indigenous People of the Nordic and Northeast Russian Arctic regions called Sápmi (incorrectly called Lapland). I've written about their siida and the Skabmagovat film festival (one is being planned in Alaska in 2005), and about some of their music and their sacred stones or seidas.

Further Links:
Lands of the Sámi

Oktavuohta digital magazine of sámiculture

Sámediggi - the Sámi Parliament in Finland and in Sweden

The Norwegian Sami parliament link does not seem to work, but there is this on the Sámi of Norway

Marja-Leena | 12/12/2004 | 3 comments
themes: Culture, Ethnicity, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric, History


That is really interesting - I will definitely put this exhibit on my calendar, since I live near Seattle and work in the city.
I am Alutiiq - and was surprised to see the exhibit is at the museum in Kodiak (my home town).

I make masks - both my own original pieces, and miniature replicas of traditional Yupik and Alutiiq masks. THe traditional culture of the Eskimos is truly fascinating. Sadly, in Kodiak, we have lost our roots due to the infiltration of the Russian and then Scandanavian & American cultures. There are a few old-timers who speak the language,and recall some stories, but no-one who remembers the dances and masks. There is a great resurgence of interest in the culture among the young people, though. Thanks for sharing!

Marja-Leena: Thank you for the information about the Sami museum exhibit! I live near Seattle, and work in the City, so I will definitely put this on my calendar.
I am Alutiiq, from Kodiak Alaska. The traditional Eskimo and northern cultures fascinate me. I make masks - original designs, and miniature replicas of Yupik and Alutiiq masks. My grandfather (from Denmark) was a trader in Nome, and then travelled between the Alaskan and Siberian coasts in the early 1900's. He left a fabulous collection of photos of the indigenous people, and was married to an Eskimo woman from Savoonga. My grandmother was from Kodiak, hence my Alutiiq heritage.
Thank you for sharing! I love your website - your artwork and your links are so interesting!

I'm very pleased to hear from you, Jackie! It's wonderful that you are exploring your roots with your mask-making. I am fascinated by this cultural resurgence of the indigenous people, especially of the arctic regions of the top of the world. I'm of course drawn a lot to my "cousins" the Sami because I was born in Finland.

Thanks for visiting and commenting, come again!