Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Mammoth Hunters

...and how Amber might be kinda related to us, what is that weird tent thing I keep taking pictures of and a little insight on cultural appropriation, understanding and appreciation.

Our last trip to Seattle had a far more important impetus than just getting some tattoos, seeing Beasts, eating macaroons and going to as many restaurants and thrift stores as possible. Six months ago, our friend tipped us off on an exhibit that was coming The Museum of Nordic Cultures about the Sápmi (or Sami), the indigenous people of Scandinavia's arctic and subarctic regions.
Mor med barn i komse. Mother and child in Finnmark, Norway. Photo by Preus Museum, 2012
These, so the family lore has it, are C's grandmother's people.  When we first heard about the exhibit from our friend who's a Sami herself, we knew we should take his grandma to see it. In the end, C.'s mom, auntie and her husband came too, making it a pretty interesting family outing.

Growing up in Finland I was aware of the Sami (or Saami as they're known in Finland), at least peripherally from a pretty young age. Whether or not I though them to be any different from other mysticism of the Far-North, the Tomtes and Tonttus, elves, wolves,  shamans, witches and Aurora Borealis spirits that inhabited my fairy-tale-infused mind is another matter, but certainly I remember knowing a little bit about the Sami, before ever venturing above the Arctic Circle.

The Sami are a relatively small group of indigenous people, the only officially recognized one in Europe. They are scattered and partially nomadic in a territory that falls within the borders of three different nations: Finland, Sweden and Norway. Their numbers are estimated somewhere between 50-100000, depending on by whom and how the census was taken.

In Finland there are about 6000 Sami (Saami), far fewer than in Norway and Sweden. Some Sami rights are recognized commonly in all three countries, such a right to speak their native language and be taught at school in their native tongue (provided that they live in their home territory), the right to follow the migration of the reindeer across international borders (I'm sure there are a number of stipulations on this one.) and each country has a political Sami body for very limited autonomous government (in Finland this body is called Saamelaiskäräjät, or in Sami Sámediggi). 

The Sami have their own flag (Displayed above-the red circle is the Sun, the blue, the Moon.), which is held in common among the different "tribes" of Sami.

The languages of the Sami are divided (similarly to the Sami themselves) into Eastern and Western "dialects". There appears to be some debate among linguists over whether Sami languages are one language with many rather different dialects, or several languages themselves. The reason for this is that while most Sami languages can apparently be mutually understood and have much in common, there are strong differences between others.

The most commonly spoken Sami language is Northern Sami, which is spoken by about 30 000 people. It's one of the five Western Sami languages. The other four have far fewer speakers, though Lule Sami and Southern Sami have more than any of the Eastern languages, 2000 and 600, respectively. Ume Sami and Piti Sami have just twenty speakers each.

Of the eastern Sami languages, the largest are Kildin Sami and Skolt Sami with five -and four-hundred speakers. Inari Sami has three hundred. The three other Eastern Sami language are dead, or as good as. As of 2010 there was only two native speakers of Ter Sami left. Akkala Sami became extinct sometime in the 1800s, with only a few written samples of it in existence. The last native speaker of Kemi Sami died in 2003.

The  Sami languages matter quite a lot for a few different reasons; one is that they denote the different sub-groups of Sami. While the differences seem relatively small to an outside observer, these Sami goups differ in not just language, but dress, customs and interestingly enough, also genetically.

The other reason is that, at least according to Finnish law, in order to determine oneself as Sami either one has learned, or has at least one parent or grandparent that learned, Sami as their first language. One parent also has to have been registered, or eligible to be registered as a voter in Sami elections.

In Finland there's also a controversial stipulation that anyone who's immediate ancestor has been registered as a subsistence living hunter, fisherman, or reindeer herder in Lapland can claim Sami heritage, whether or not the registered ancestor was actually ethnically Sami.

Compared to criteria used to "measure" a person's Native American heritage, for instance, these stipulations are really strict, which I hope is partly because the Sami were not obliterated in the same horrific manner the indigenous populations of the Americas were. Another part is that they have had the good luck of mostly remaining in the same general area for thousands of years. Until the 20th Century they also mingled somewhat less with the dominant population, making ancestry tracing easier.

Still, there's quite a bit cultural genocide that occurred particularly in the post-World War II years; 
The Sami went through many of the same trials North American Indians did, from banning of their customs and language, to the children being taken to state school to get "re-educated".  This makes the stipulation about the language rather interesting since one of the characteristics of re-education is often that it obliterates children's ability as native speakers by making using one's indigenous language a punishable offense.

Just as the languages are divided into Eastern and Western, there is research speculating that the genetic heritage of the two directions of the Sami are also quite different. The Eastern Sami have more Russian, Mongolian and East of Ural characteristics (which in themselves can be contradicting). This allows for some discrepancy in the image different folks have of the Sami. In Scandinavia the Sami are typically portrayed and thought of as either short, but powerfully built, with darker skin and hair, or as blond, more Swedish/Russian looking. 

The latter appears to be the prevailing image of the Sami outside of Scandinavia, along with the more Siberian, Eastern influences. Certainly there are Sami folk today, as well as pictured from the past who seem to bear a strong resemblance to indigenous nomads in Mongolia and Siberia.

One would imagine that as with most nomads, there was a fair bit of gene-pool mixing over time and distance. However, there is some truly fascinating genetic information available on the Sami and this information actually ties into the genetic ancestry of all of us. The Sami are considered to be the most genetically interesting group of people in Europe. As a matter of fact, genetically speaking, there are two groups of people in Europe: the Sami and the rest.

(This gal has the eyes and cheek bones of someone we know ;)

The Sami are considered to have the most "Mongolian influence" from crossing with Siberian cultures, or possibly more specifically the Samoyed (of the tundra forests) People (Which today include the Nenets, Selkup, Enets and other indigenous Siberian people) (It should be noted the there's some debate of the origin of the word Samoyed and whether it is a derogatory colonial Russian term.) who's territory at one point bordered their homelands on the Kola Peninsula.
Samisk bryllup. Sami wedding. Finnmark, Norway. Photo by Preus Museum, 2012
Their unique genetic history makes the Sami the largest constituents of Haplo Group V- the smallest group of our European genetic ancestors. The majority of the maternal lines come from the West and the minority from the East and the opposite is true of the The genetic ancestors of the Sami come from two places of ancient dwellers The Iberian Refuge and The Ukrainian Refuge, each one of the few habitable places in Europe at the end of the of the last Ice Age. This division was typical of all European groups as the ice age separated the Eastern and Western lines from one another.

The unifying trait of the Sami  ancestors at this point was that they lived in the Northernmost areas of the regions and practiced hunting typical to tundra dwellers. Those in the Iberian Refuge hunted for deer, while their Western counterparts were the Mammoth Hunters, who also share their ancestry with us modern day Finns. Hence the "cousin connection" between us and Amber. (Since both C.'s maternal grandparents have quite a bit of Finn in them, C. and I are actually rather more closely related, I'm sure. Finns are pretty much all related to each other. Go figure.)

You can read about Amber's genetic journey into our same branch of the human family here. This is one beautiful, inspiring piece and needless to say I feel honored to be distantly related and presently connected to this awesome gal.

In addition to language and genetic differences, various tribes of Sami people wear very different costumes. The Eastern Skolt Sami women, for instance, have their own very distinct style of hats and wear different style of scarves from the other costumes. Their costume has a long skirt for women and a blouse, and almost reminds one of Russian dress.

The costume more typically thought of as "the Sami Costume", with its blue felt and Aurora-trim , with the "four winds"-cap for men and a red one (the horn-cap) with beautiful trims for women is the Inari Same costume.

Some influences of the Sami costume have even seeped into the Finnish mainstream. "Lapikkaat" (Lapp Shoes), for instance, fur-lined leather boots with upturned toes were the winter shoe of choice for a everyone around the turn of last century and remained popular up until the 50s. They're having quite the revival these days with the young folks. Most Finnish national costumes feature upturned pointy-toed leather shoes much like the Sami's wear. Things like "Aurora Mittens" (as seen on the woman in the first image in this post) are also something most people know, but don't necessarily associate with the Sami. Since Finnish National Costumes, were somewhat artificially created, it would be interesting to know how much they borrow from the Sami costumes. (I really want a book about Finnish National Costumes.) The scarves, the pins, the striped cloth of skirts, could all be either popular to the time, or on loan. Certainly the colorfulness of the costumes is very similar to Sami-wear.

The Sami have been, and continue in part to be, a nomadic people, who follow the reindeer in their annual migration. Their traditional home the Lavvu (in Finland 'Kota. There's some controversy over this on English language sites.) resembles the Tipi of the North American Plains Indians, so much so that there's been some dispute over whether one culture influenced the other in less distant past than the Behring Land Bridge.

The main thing that makes the Lavvu unique is its three forked poles for ease of setting the Lavvu up. The surrounding poles rest upon the tripod that they form, which makes it possible for a single person to set it up by themselves (I dare you to try the same with a tipi!). Traditionally it was made from reindeer skins and often the poles were stashed in each seasonal camp spot. Wood is scarce in the hyperborean regions, so the poles were really quite precious.

Mann med reinsdyr. Finnmark in Norway. Photo by Preus Museum, 2012
So how does all this fascinating information actually relate to my husband's family history?
Man in  Finnmark, Norway.  Mattis Johansen Pentha, ca. 60 år. Photo by Preus Museum, 2012
Perhaps because of their relative isolation, the Sami were late-comers to the great boom to move to the United States and thanks to their fairly recent emigration, many of their descendants remain pretty connected to their heritage.

Even thought they're not active participants in the immigrant Sami community, C's family's lore has always maintained that "Grandma Sari/Saari/ (or sadly) Sorry", C's grandmother's grandmother, was of Sami origin. This, of course, is more word of mouth than anything else. Little, or no concrete information seems to have remained in the family archives, but thanks to the miracles of modern technology, I've been able to do a little genealogy work online. 
Lapland Children at Ellis Island. Barn fra Lapland på Ellis Island NYC, USA Digital ID: 418037. Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [ca. 1906-1914]
The story of C's great great grandmother's ancestry has always been obscured by a family tragedy that virtually erased his great great grandfather from the family tree. Little was, in fact known of him, save for that he was also from Finland, his last name, possible first name, and that he moved across the river from where the family lived, to Oregon, never to be seen or heard from again.
Unge samiske kvinner fra Sverige
One of the things I was originally interested in, was whether or not this illustrious grandfather was Sami himself. If the family lore on C's great great grandma was true, then I felt, there was a pretty good chance that his heritage would be the same. First generation immigrants typically married among their own and though from a non-Scandinavian point-of-view, a Sami marrying a Finn might appear pretty natural, it seems more likely that Grandma Saari would have married one of her own in the New World.
Lapland Children at Ellis Island. Barn på Ellis Island NYC, USA. Digital ID: 418037. Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [ca. 1906-1914]
The little research I could do based on what we know about her husband made this seem like a real possibility. Though there's much more research I look forward to doing in the family archives some day, there's a fair chance that both of C's maternal great grandparents were of Sami origin.

How Sami does that then make C, or even his mother or aunts and uncle? Well in the terms of modern Finnish definition of Sami-not very.

If we could positively prove that both his great great grandparents were Sami, that would make his great grandpa a full Sami. However, as I mentioned before, since the determining factor in defining Sami heritage, at least in Finland, is not ancestry, but language, unless we could prove that one of his parents had spoken a Sami language as their first, the official line of Sami heritage ends with them.
Anna Hurri, Karesuando, Sweden by Bonaparte, 1884
According that criteria, C.'s family's claim to Sami ancestry is maybe a little more valid than say, Elizabeth Warren's claim of Cherokee ancestry. But, as Warren's case illustrates, these matters are more complex than mare ancestral lines might imply.

For one thing, as long as there is no financial advantage at stake (as there sadly often is, due to the incredibly unfair treatment of North American First Nations and convoluted restitution methods employed by the US government. But that is a whole other post, most likely by someone other than me.), or the person claiming indigenous heritage is somehow offensive to that culture, I feel that identifying with a one's heritage even if its origin is not documented to absolute certainty can only benefit the claimant's (and then, by proxy, that of those around them) understanding of that indigenous culture.
Nomad Sami Finland 1920s
That is, of course, if they bother to look further into it than simply to claim that their great great grandfather had some Apache blood in them. As a statement for gaining "native cool", such claims can be offensive, but as incentive to learn about the indigenous history and current state of native culture in one's homeland, a "Native Identity" can alter a person's perception radically.
Mountain Saami group in Lyngen Norway. 1928
This is, naturally, just my personal opinion, but I feel that if, for instance, one married "into", rather than "out of" native tribes, there would be a lot more folks who would have something at stake when their history is re-written or glossed over, or their past or current rights are violated.

A scholar of local Coast Salish native heritage that we know here, even compares some of the government driven policies on being "a tribe member by blood" to a selective breeding program that is an extension, or perhaps the latest form of genocide by the US government. The more strident the rules on who's Native American and who's not, the smaller the tribal rolls get. Sure, if anyone born to one recognized native parent, or even married to a such an individual had the right to claim tribal membership status, there would be more trouble over fishing rights and insurance, but more importantly, there would be more folks who identified with and had an incentive to learn about the culture.
Sami woman in Sweden milking reindeer. Svensk samisk kvinne som melker reinsdyr.
Of course, I'm not an indigenous person myself, or any sort of expert on native culture anywhere, but I would encourage anyone with any native heritage to really learn about their ancestry, for not only a more complete understanding of these people's past and present, but so that we may all not keep repeating the same vague, romantic notions of indigenous peoples.

I  believe that this is similar our responsibility to learn all we can about the history of the region that we live in. Understanding the people who shaped the region before us, helps our own bond with our chosen home place. This strikes me as being particularly important in a country as permanently transient as America, where people move around from generation to generation, with little history of their own in connection to the land they live on.
Discoveries about one's ethnicity, home place, or deep ancestry can yield surprising insights into ourselves. Just as understanding why certain cloud patterns augur certain kind of weather, or why certain wild foods were preferred by the original inhabitants of the region, helps us ground ourselves to the place we've chosen to live in.


Random, serendipitous or random seeming mental and physical attributes gain new meaning, a place in a long chain of genetic events, when we discover that there may be an ancestral precedent to our artistic prowess, our love of a weather, our emotional life, our unusual looks...


IMG_9070 IMG_9073
IMG_9102 IMG_9106 IMG_9111
In my mind it stands to reason, for instance, that my husband's family would come in part from a culture that valued artistry and beauty in their every day objects. C's interest in native carving and knife-making suddenly presents itself in a new context. His whole family's artistic flair does. That they are artists and crafters and seem to have a great eye, suddenly makes more sense.
It may seem trivial to try to cast such a light on a person's artistic ability, but in a world where we are disconnected from such a heritage, where each person picks their own path, starts from scratch, feeling like you're part of a tradition is powerful thing. We no longer carry on our parents trade, or apprentice to master's to learn a new one; instead we are tossed out into the world with a vague notion of who we might want to become, an idea that we are here to re-invent the culture.
It can be very beneficial to an artist to discover that they are a new link in a very long continuum and will have to work very hard to measure up to those who came before them.
That sense of being a part of something larger than ourselves, is a good reminder. A reminder that life is short and fleeting and good and exciting, that we should try to make it as fun and beautiful as we can.
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It is also comforting to connect to one's ancestors on a very simple, even material plane: "We are the kind of people who carry their salt and coffee on their person at all times." "We are the kind of people who love a small riot of color on every one of their possessions."
IMG_9093 IMG_9092
The kind of pride I could tell my husband felt looking at these objects, reading these small stories of a vast culture, is the kind of pride that one should have in one's ancestry: being proud and humbled all at once by the sheer improbability of how many others had to travel through so much time and distance, so that you might exist.
IMG_9094 IMG_9098

IMG_9096 IMG_9097
And you might as well be proud of who and where you came from.
Our ancestry, after all, is part of our inner lives, whether we acknowledge it or not.

I hope you enjoyed this "small" introduction to the Sami, close and distant family history, and some thoughts on ancestry. Here's some ideas for Sami-related entertainment and I'm currently really enthralled with Amber's recommendation The Seven Daughters of Eve, and highly recommend it (correct me if I got any of the genetics stuff wrong, Amber ;). Someday, if anyone's interested, I would also love to dedicate a whole post to the Sami costumes, which are varied, beautiful and utterly unique. Someday.

Got ancestral knowledge? Into genealogy? Where do your people hail from?

NOTE: I apologize for not having sources for all of these images BUT many of them are from this awesome collection  and some are from a number of Finnish Saami organizations pages. I got a lot of the information on Sami genetic heritage from this article by Kalevi Wiik. 


  1. holy wonderful, this was the most fascinating read as i nurse my babe this evening. so you two built yourself a lavvu?!! how unifying, to create a new tradition from the old and build a bridge through time and place. you almost brought a tear to my eye thinking about c's connections to the past and his own present talents and passions, and your own appreciation of your husband's discoveries and gifts. what a beautiful journey you two are on together to find out this ancestry. the sami people are fascinating! a part of the world and a people i know very little about, so i thank you for taking the time to put together this inspiring post and for your own unique and amazing perspective on connecting to native roots, i had never thought of it that way and it is a refreshing and enlightening viewpoint. we have always believed we have some kind of southwestern/mexican native history in our family on mom's side, but it is a vague notion and more recent generations were reticent on the subject, having a certain shame (ugh) and calling themselves "spanish." now i am more determined than ever to discover the truth and learn more about the tribal history that might be hidden in our pasts. thank you again for this beautiful sunday night blessing :)

  2. that museum is two blocks from my house!! xo m

  3. kiitos! tämä oli kaunis kirjoitus,joka sai ainakin minun silmäni kostumaan.
    oma sukuni on aika jämäkästi ainakin 1700 luvulle Satakuntalaista,Tyrväältä,mutta olisi viehättävää selvittää pidemmällekin.

  4. This is a beautiful post, and resonates with me in a sort of strange way. The vast majority of my blood comes from the Black Sea region of Turkey and I know very little of our old culture (as opposed to the newer, fairly homogeneous Turkish culture). I know nothing about my great grandparents, except that they were also from the Karadeniz. I've had a hard time being proud, because I know so little. Records, fairly recent ones at that, in this country are not very well kept. My grandfather doesn't even know his birthday or true age, as his parents registered with the government several years after his birth.

    More and more, I've been driven to ask my parents if they'd like to get DNA testing done to find out where their ancestors, and in turn, my ancestors, originated.

    We're going north this winter, and I can't wait. You've got me wondering if my tastes and inner life are rooted in some culture much deeper and older than what I know.


  5. What a great post! It is so strange that claiming status is dependent on first language spoken...this is certainly in place to whittle down the 'official' numbers of these people.

    Here in Canada, over the past 100 years especially, we have had a huge genocide of our First Nations. Like you mentioned, here too Native children from all across the country were taken from their parents and forced to study at reservation schools where they were forbidden to speak their own languages or practice any part of their culture. They were also systematically exposed to physical and sexual abuse; setting their society up for a progeny of dysfunction. There are also many First Nations claims of deliberately exposing healthy children to children sick with small pox in an attempt to diminish the population. The government claims that 50,000 children died on these reservation schools, so the actual number is likely much higher.

    Our government is also constantly trying to get away with violating First Nations treaty rights. Luckily many tribes have strong and brave leaders who are able to rally their people and stand up to the government in instances where non-Natives are uninvolved or blase.

    None of these topics are taught in our schools, so I feel that even if someone such as you or I is a non-Native it is important that we learn about these cultures and that we help to preserve them and help them fight for human rights and social justice.

    I myself don't know much about my heritage; what resources did you use to gather this info? I'd love to delve into my own past!

  6. I love this post so much- it is beautiful look at history, learning a past, and a celebration of connection.
    I am sad I missed the exhibit. I actually went to the museum for the first time last week-- for kid story time. I didn't get to see much of the museum though (just what I could see following the almost 5-year-old on the way out).
    As for heritage- my maternal grandmother was German (1st generation immigrant)and my maternal grandfather was Norwegian (and moved to the Midwest when he was about 14).
    I have visited the town he was from in Norway and my aunt has collected a lot of information regarding the family history. I don't know much more though.
    Our daughter is technically 1/2 Danish, since we used a Danish sperm bank. We are teaching a bit about Scandanavia and I thought she'd have fun hearing stories at story time.

    Oh, and I was on your lovely island the weekend before halloween. What a wonderful place!

  7. I love this post! So insightful! Have you heard of the band Adjágas?

    They were my first introduction to the Sami people. They only sing in their native tongue, and it is so beautiful!

    You should check them out!
    "Guoros Fatnasat" was the first song i heard of theirs, still my favorite!

    More pictures of them here:

  8. Such a great and interesting post! Thank you for sharing

  9. "Random, serendipitous or random seeming mental and physical attributes gain new meaning, a place in a long chain of genetic events, when we discover that there may be an ancestral precedent to our artistic prowess, our love of a weather, our emotional life, our unusual looks..."

    You know I love that line more than anything (and may have to quote you on it someday).

    So. First off, I love the photos of C looking at the exhibit pieces.

    Secondly, I appreciate so deeply how much time and research you put into this post. I love all of this information (almost all of it new to me), and I also love that you philosophize about WHY knowing about your ancestry is important. I think about that why all the time.

    I, of course, strongly encourage you to do a post about Saami traditional clothing!

    An interesting thing about Haplogroup V is that the population it is 2nd most frequent in is the Basques, who I have also heard described as Europe's most unique people. And THEN the other day, a few days after being told by Martha Beck that I have "shaman eyes", I was reading Ralph Metzner's book The Well of Remembrance: Rediscovering the Earth Wisdom Myths of Northern Europe" (published over a decade before any Haplogroups had been identified) and he says that the Basque and Saami people are the only two European cultures with an unbroken shamanic line stretching back to ancient times. Admittedly, he doesn't back this up with facts. But still. It struck me.

    Thanks you again for the heart you put into this Milla. I love you, and miss you, and think of you so often.

  10. Also, I have always adored mammoths (my soul exploded when a friend showed me a piece of mammoth ivory recently), so now I'm going to tell myself that my ancestors were mammoth hunters. (Okay and now I have to say that Brian Sykes says Haplogroup V were the first to make cave art- which, along with the phrase "mammoth hunters", reminds of the amazing Auel books).

  11. Wonderful and fun to read. Thank you, Milla!

  12. Hi hun, I really enjoyed reading this earlier today. i know my ancestry as far as my great-grandparents, but I do want to know more. I read Amber's post on her genealogy today as well, and it was (to coin my daughter's latest favourite word) - fascinating. It had me wondering whether I felt particularly close to any other culture, or associated myself with one other than my own immediate culture....besides enjoying the idea of a nomadic lifestyle in a caravan amongst horses and flowers.....I'm not really sure. Mmmmmmm I want to know more now.

  13. I am half Arab and half American mutt. My Anglo ancestors were apparently mercenaries along Hadrian's wall for many generations. I find that both compelling and troubling!

    This was fascinating. Having visited the reindeer herders in Northern Mongolia, I was so interested to learn of this tribe of culturally very similar people, or so they seem.


  14. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Milla :) I was unfamiliar with Sami and learned a great deal... and now I really really really want to spend the $200 to learn more about my ancient ancestors. How amazing it must be for C. to be able to trace his lineage back. I'd also love to hear how you and C. met-- if you'd ever be interested or willing to share that on your blog :) (Kind of a personal I know) But I find it so fascinating that you both have roots in Finland.

    My own family descend from Azorean people (an Atlantic island of Portugal) and Southern Italians. Most of my family came to this country pretty recently and I've had a great deal of fun doing genealogical research and finding them all in the census. I do have a burning question about my Dad's background however because although the Azores are part of Portugal-- many of its first inhabitants in the 15th century were Jews (fleeing the Crusades), African slaves, and various European peasants who fled their original countries.

  15. Totally fascinating post and well worth the wait! The photos are wonderful. I can see Amber-like features in so many of those faces. What an interesting ancestral story to delve into and I loved reading your musings on the significance of ancestry whether we pay attention to that part of ourselves or not. I think all of us reading this are coming away feeling inspired to want to learn more about our own ancestral stories! Nicely done :)

    Also, yes, the Sami costumes in these photos are so beautiful, I would love to learn more!

  16. i've read this twice now, and look forward to reading it again...there is so much richness here, and i feel inspired and also a little sad...inspired by you and by finding out so much i didn't know, sad because the common fate of so many indigenous tribes socks me right in that same place that hurts for the earth. and it may be that part of me that is in touch with the collective wound so many of us have, from being separated from tribe, from history, from earth.

    i saw amber in that pic before i saw your comment...holy crow! i also see a lot of you...especially in the illustration in the last 1/3 of your post. i also found myself wondering more about the indigenous people of the british isles, and wondering if the sami were ever there or perhaps not because of the island issue? i have never felt more at home than i did when i went to the english countryside when i was 20, and i was shocked to see my facial features on so many strangers (ah, so that's why i don't have a chin!). as well, you know my connection with maine and how nurturing it was to rest in the embrace of ancestral place this past summer. thanks for this post, love. xo

  17. I lovelovelove this glimpse into your history! Totally fascinating, and a culture I've never explored. Thank you!

    Yes, I will be around next week! Email me at Oh how exciting!!

  18. this was incredibly interesting! thank you for this introduction to a people i had never heard of :D

  19. I'm going to second Ana's suggestion to listen to Adjágas, one of my favorite bands.

    I am jealous you got to see that exhibit at the Museum of Nordic Cultures! I would really like to go.