Who are the Sami People in Sweden?
Can you imagine a language with 300 words for Snow? By Kelly Granite Enck
Travel is innate within me, the more I see of the world, the more magical it is to me. While in Diessenhofen, Switzerland I met a young woman named Judith. She was radiant as she served me a glass of the local Swiss wine from the vines on the hill. I noticed an interesting symbol on her neck, one I had never seen before.
So, I asked her about it. She told me that she spends all her holidays in Sapmi getting to know the Sami People in Sweden. "It’s their symbol," she said, holding the necklace in her hand. She could not tell me of her journey for she had clients to serve. I felt she was my new oracle, the one stranger that I was going to meet in each country that would change my life. And she did.
The first thing I did was come back the next night to show Judith my 60 million-year-old fossil of a Starfish that I bought in Stein am Rhine. I delicately pulled it out of my purse and handed it to her, telling her it was from Madagascar. She gasped, then said, "Where did you get this?' I told her Stein am Rhine, and then she said, "My father just gave me the same one a month ago."
Second, while lost on my bike ride from Stein am Rhine back to Diessenhofen I notice a horse like the one I grew up taking care of named Papoose. I photographed it and put it on Facebook. Judith replied saying that her horse was in the same pasture.
Third, she introduced me to the Sami People who are indigenous of Sweden— they have never been conquered or forced off their land. They pride themselves on being "self-determined."
The Sami country is known as Sapmi, and stretches across the northern part of Scandinavia and Russia's Kola Peninsula. They are recognized by the United Nations as an indigenous people, giving them the right to preserve and develop their crafts, language, education, reindeer husbandry, traditions and identity. There is no census for the Sami, and the population is estimated at around 80,000 people, spread over four countries with approximately 20,000 in Sweden, 50,000 in Norway, 8,000 in Finland and 2,000 in Russia.
The Sami People are the origins of mankind, the ones that survived the ice age. There were only one million humans left after the Ice Age and without protection of the Sami, who knows?
More will be revealed in my new book, "Michael's Quantum City".
But, before I leave you tonight, I wanted you to hear a song from a young girl raised by the Sami People, who have 300 words for "snow." Her name is Sofia Jannok and her song is titled "Irene." The lyrics means "the earmarked reindeer took off." It was the reindeer that kept man alive during the Ice Age.
"Out on the tundra you need to play by the rules of nature; weather, wind, terrain and daylight all make a difference as to when to make your movements, when to wait for snowstorms to pass, and when to keep going before the dark hits. Our traditional way of living is to rely on the livelihood of reindeer husbandry and on the respect of nature. Reindeer are free animals they wonder over great areas. They know the way to go, because they have always been wondering the same path. We follow them like Nomads: we go where the reindeer go. Our ways of living were taught to us by our parents and they, were taught by our grandparents. They taught us that the land is borrowed, on loan and every decision we make, we must think 200 years forward. The Sami land was once a very rich area, now it is being destroyed, by mining companies digging for copper. This will cut the reindeer's path. I have seen them dying. If changes are not made, our children will be reading about us in history books, and corporations will be leaving earth to invade other lands." ~ Sofia Jannok
Judith's necklace was handmade by the Sami People. It's symbol for the sun. Living on the ice makes the heart grow founder of warmth, and all of nature that supports life. They have a saying, "The sun and wind will always follow us wherever we go." I hope we can find another option than mining their land, like solar energy and thinking 200 years ahead.