Locals is a new series here at PedroL where I invite a local to share some of his/her recommendations on his/her city, ideally not the touristy ones but what is, in fact, worth seeing to feel the city, just like the locals do.
In this post, Monica, a 28 years old artist from Tromsø, tells us about the Sápmi region and the Sami culture. It is a truly interesting and rich post. I have to be honest, I didn´t know much about the Sami culture and, when I first read in Monica’s blog, I challenged her to share it here. Enjoy and don´t forget to check her amazing photos on instagram too!
I was born and raised in the Arctic, more specifically in Sápmi, which is the indigenous region traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people, but also by Kven people – both native Uralic peoples with unique language and culture.
Sápmi stretches all the way from the Kola peninsula in the north to below the Arctic circle in the south (over four countries Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia) and was a region long before the borders were made.
We even have our own flag! Today, Sápmi is a very international place, with many international students and other adventurers. It’s a haven for skiiers, hikers and climbers, too.
I paint landscape paintings with acrylics, and sometimes I sew too; redesign and traditional duodji (Sámi handcraft), sometimes in more modern style. In addition to this I am a student of vajrayana buddhism with goals of becoming a buddhist teacher myself one day.
I love photography and recently purchased a Panasonic Lumix pocket camera to pursue this hobby a bit more. Up until now I have mostly used my phone camera. Luckily we are blessed with very photogenic landscapes and motives here, especially with the play of light; midnight sun and polar night.
I enjoy traveling to other countries too, very much, and always to my travel companion’s frustration I stop and take pictures of everything I find interesting – which is a lot!
My favourite places in Sápmi are many. My parents are from two different villages in Finnmark, which is the biggest county of Norway, and so naturally I have seen much of Finnmark and spent a lot of time there and it grew to be a favourite of mine.
It’s hard to pinpoint one place, as the whole of Finnmark is pretty magical to me. You’ll find gems everywhere, and I can particularly recommend Grense Jakobselv, right on the border of Russia.
I live just outside Tromsø in Troms now, which is a city of about 70 000 people. Tromsø lies almost right in the middle of Sápmi, and is a city that is growing and showing more and more support for the indigenous peoples, after a very dark and shameful history of racism and segregation, which started in the late 1800s.
This resulted in only about 10-20% of the sámi population knowing any of the remaining sámi languages today and for many indigenous people to not recognize their own ethnicity or even celebrate the national day (Sámi day 6th of February, Kven day 16th of March).
Luckily, it seems the latest generations are changing this, which makes me so proud and happy.
Every year in July, there is an indigenous festival called Riddu Riđđu, which can be translated to “small coastal storm”. It takes place in Manndalen, few hours drive outside the city of Tromsø.
This festival has become very important. Not only is it fun and lively with many international artists (in 2018, my favorite was Baker Boy) and craftmakers and activities for children, but it also truly celebrates indigenous culture; music (especially sámi joik), art and expression.
Every year the festival also invites a specific indigenous group as honor guests, and hold talks and seminars on different topics. This year, the festival was cancelled unfortunately for obvious reasons, but I hope it will be back on next summer.
Would you like to be featured and share your city here in PedroL? I’m especially interested in cities I haven’t been, if you’d like to suggest yours write me to firstname.lastname@example.org