about Baiki

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

I recently received a copy of BAIKI: the North American SAMI Journal, which ‘is a major English-language source of information about Sami arts, literature, history, spirituality, and environmental concerns. It also covers news of North American Sami community events. “BAIKI” [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 Sami 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 Sami 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 Sami ancestry live in North America. Some are the descendants of Sami 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 Sami 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 Sami cultural revival with this beautiful biannual publication begun in 1991 and now in its 25th issue. The current issue’s theme is “Sami Identity in Art, Film, Music and Storytelling” with examples of works by many ami 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 Sami 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 Sapmi (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 Sami
Oktavuohta digital magazine of Sami culture
Samediggi – the Sami Parliament in Finland and in Sweden
The Norwegian Sami parliament link does not seem to work, but there is this on the Sami of Norway

December 12, 2004 in Culture, Ethnicity, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric, History by Marja-Leena