SDÁ 1-2-2007: Lill Tove Fredriksen

Eatnamis eatnama láhkái

Lill Tove Fredriksen (Romssa universitehta)

Viečča artihkkala dás (pdf).

Eatnamis eatnama láhkái – When in a new country, follow its ways

In the academic world, the recent focus within indigenous issues has been related to indigenous methodologies, indigenous epistemologies and intellectual self-determination. In this article, I aim to demonstrate the consequences of the Norwegian state’s colonial rule, as it appears in the sea Sami political protest song Sámit. This song reveals a strong critique of the Norwegian authorities’ assimilation policies towards the Sami people at the beginning of the 20th Century, a process sometimes known as Norwegianisation. I aim to read the text using an indigenous perspective, within the framework of a postcolonial discourse.

The dichotomy sámi álbmot – vašálaš (Sami people – enemy) plays an important role in the lyrics. The enemy in this context refers to two distinct groups – the Norwegian authorities and the Sami who are “asleep” and do not take care of their own culture and language or fight for their rights. The title of the article refers to a Sami proverb and the meaning is that you have to adjust to the ways of your new country and be sensitive to the values that prevail there (Gaski 2006: 53). The song explicitly tells people to wake up and be conscious of what is actually happening to their cultural heritage. In this context, I focus on the lyrics and its importance as a weapon against the harsh effects of colonialism.

The song Sámit was first published in the newspaper Lappernes Ven 1/1-1921. It was written by Erke Jovsset, a local man from Porsanger in Northern Norway. It is the only text he ever published and one must wonder why a man with such writing skills never wrote anything else. I have interviewed locals about this song and even his closest family never heard him talk about it. One possible reason is that the song is quite radical in its content and political activists at that time were considered to be unusual by local people.