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Excursion Exhibition – Part 2: South Sápmi 2015

Excursion Exhibition – Part 2: South Sápmi 2015

In spring of 2015, Focal Point North funded a second excursion for first-year Indigenous Studies Master’s students to Norway’s Trøndaleg region, as well as Västerbottten and Jämtland regions of Sweden. Activities and seminars were focused on the subject area of “Indigenous peoples, resources and rights”.

Activities and content reflected South Sámi cultural, social, and political institutions of where they were located, but students were encouraged to participate in discussions by bringing their own perspectives and insights from their cultures. The exhibition, “Making Connections: Knowledge and Experience Sharing,” attempts to illustrate this exchange and interaction through photos.

Take a look below!

Day 1: Tromsø – Snåsa

In Snåsa, students met Thomas Åhren, elected representative from the Norwegian Sámi Parliament. Åhren told of his personal role within the parliament, told of the legislative issues regarding reindeer herding and animals of prey, as well as answering questions regarding the relationship between the Sámi and Norwegian Parliaments.

Day 2: Snåsa – Sæterstad gård

The second day students visited Samien Sijte (South Sami Museum & Sámi Parliament) in Snåsa. Here students were exposed to the museum exhibits as well as the responsibilities of staff in representing Sámi through history and the present. The night was then spent at Sæterstad gård, a local goat and fish farm, which generates its own hydroelectricity.

Day 3: Hattfjeldall

Students visited the Hattfjeldall Sámi School, learning about its role in continuing South Sami language instruction to students from both Norway and Sweden. Thus the school has great influence on rebuilding and sustaining cultural/linguistic ties between individuals who attend. Students also visited Sitji Jarnge South Sámi Culture and Development Centre, where the South Sámi Library Bus made an appearance.

Day 4: Tärnaby

Here, students attended a seminar by Marie Persson regarding the local activist campaign “Stoppa gruvan i Rönnbäcken” and her business, Maries Design. A visit to the local Sámi School was also made where Odd Willenfeldt provided context to the Swedish system of instructing Sámi curricula, which aided students to reflect on the differences and similarities between the school previously visited in Norway.

Day 5: Vilhelmina

In Vilhelmina students were presented with a research project, “Collaborative research in practice – reflections from different perspectives,” by university researchers, Per Sanström and Anette Löf, and community researcher/reindeer herder, Marita Stinnerbom. They discussed the positive outcomes of collaborative research by allowing community stake-holders to direct research that is most important for them and for knowledge-building in reindeer herding using new tools provided by collaboration with universities.

Day 6: Östersund

The first activity was provided by excursion participants and researchers Patrik Lantto (University of Umeå) and Greg Poelzer (University of Saskatchewan). Each held a lecture, Lantto on the Sámi political movement in Sweden, and Poelzer on Comparative Research Approaches. In the evening everyone took part in a cultural exchange, sharing or presenting something from their home communities.

Day 7: Östersund

On their last day, students visited Gaaltjie sydsamiskt kulturcentrum (South Sámi cultural centre) with Jerker Bexelius who discussed the centre’s mandate in providing space and services to the local Sámi community. Students then made a visit to Jamtli, the regional museum of Jämtland.


Exhibition about excursion to Sápmi 2014

Exhibition about excursion to Sápmi 2014

Within the “Focal Point North” project, an excursion to the Lule- and Pitesami areas in Norway and Sweden was organized by the Centre for Sami Studies from April 23rd-30th, 2014. Among the 20 members of the excursion group were students of the Master program for Indigenous Studies, as well as representatives UiT – The Arctic University of Norway and partner institutions. Its main topic was “Indigenous peoples, extractive industries and policies”.

Results of the excursion were presented in a photo exhibition called “Making Connections: Knowledge and Experience Sharing” at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. The exhibition was organized by students who attended the trip. The idea of the exhibition was to visualize the experiences and knowledge gathered during the excursion.

The following photos and descriptions depict the content of the exhibition.

Day 1
The first institution that welcomed the group was the Center for Lule Sami called “Árran”. A one-day seminar was organized where the trip participants, Arran Centre and the Norwegian Sami parliament representatives could raise the discussion and share opinions on matters of concern. The main topics for the discussion were: “Tysfjord as part of Laponia?”, “Lulesami, an endangered language. The situation of today”, “Ongoing and planned research projects at Árran”.

Day 2

The group spent this day in Kiruna – a city in the North of Sweden. The group visited the Sami Parliament where the floor for discussion on indigenous issues was opened. The topic “The current situation of the Sami people in Sweden and the role of the Sami Parliament” was presented by the Sami Parliament representative Marie Enoksen.

Among the institutions visited during the second day was the City hall, where a museum is located. Another sight was the Mine City Park viewing point that gave the participants a chance to gain an overview the territory of the mining activity this town is famous for.

Day 3

The third day of the excursion was spent in Jokkmok. The group visited Ajtte Museum dedicated to history of the Sami. There the members of the group observed history of the Sami people, stayed in a traditional tent and learned more about history of the place.

During this day the members attended the seminar where the topic of discussion was ‘Laponia – a nature conservation area and a meeting place?’. In the evening there was a meeting with one of the activists who participated against the mining activities in Gállok – the territory of the the Sami people today.

Day 4
The activities during the second day of stay in Jokmokk were organized by the tourist agency Lapland Vuollerim. During this day the students and other members experienced the Arctic Circle crossing ceremony, met Sami reindeer herders and participated in house-jumping dinners, which allowed the group and the hosts to share experiences in pleasant atmosphere. They also tried both Swedish and Sami traditional dishes including reindeer meat with lingonberries jam and mashed potatoes. The group was taken to the places where hydro electronic plants are operating. These plants are one of the hot topics for discussion in Sweden because of the impact they have on nature. Digging into the atmosphere of the Sami culture during their trip to the 18th Century farm, participants even had a chance to build a traditional tent.

Day 5
The fifth day was spent in Areoplog commune, where the delegation visited the Silver museum and listened to several lectures. Silver jewelry commonly used in Sami embroidery and costumes, craft, goods and furniture decorated with horn and wood were demonstrated as a significant part of the traditional Sami lifestyle.

Day 6
This day the delegation moved to the Fauske commune. Events were organized by the County governor of Nordland. The participants listened to a lecture on reindeer herding in this county – “Reindeer husbandry management in Nordland – brief introduction”. The group was also shown the movie on the importance of the reindeer herding which was streamed on the national television of Norway in 2011. The movie title is “Landet bortenfor” (“The Land Beyond”).

Day 7
The day was spent in Sulitjelma, which is a village in the Fauske kommune in Nordland. From the earliest times the territory of Sulitjelma has been the Sami territory. However, this territory is also famous for its major mining activities which started in the end of 1800s. In active times, the Sulitjelma mines stood on the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority’s list of the 10 most polluting businesses in Norway. In 1991 last mining activities were stopped in this territory. The participants visited the Mining museum and also had tour down into a mine tunnel.


Day 8
The last day of the excursion took place at the University of Nordland, which is located in Bodø. There the participants had a seminar on Markasami history, Lulesami language and coastal Sami women and cultural mathematics.

By Eketarina Zmyvalova.


Umeå University visits UiT

Researchers from Umeå University visit UiT

Written by Sarah Musubika and Maeve Powell

Lis-Mari Hjortfors, Kajsa Kemi Gjerpe, Kristina Belancic, Isabelle Brännlund, Johan Runemark Brydsten, Anders Haglund, Hildegunn Bruland

Lis-Mari Hjortfors, Kajsa Kemi Gjerpe, Kristina Belancic, Isabelle Brännlund, Johan Runemark Brydsten, Anders Haglund, Hildegunn Bruland
Photo: Maeve Powell

As part of the Focal Point North project five researchers from Umeå University visited UiT The Arctic University of Norway to take part in events hosted by the Center for Sámi Studies between 13th and 15th  of October 2015.

Bjørg Evjen at the launch

Bjørg Evjen at the launch of Mapping Indigenous Presence: North Scandinavian and North American
Photo: Lis-Mari Hjortfors

These included a visit to Giellatekno, the Center for Sámi language technology at UiT and attending the book launch of Mapping Indigenous Presence: North Scandinavian and North American Perspectives edited by Kathryn W. Shanley from the University of Montana-Missoula and Bjorg Evjen from UiT. The visitors also had the opportunity to attend guest lectures, network with students from the Masters of Indigenous Studies and discuss research projects, methods, challenges and experiences in the field of Indigenous Studies. They also held a seminar where they presented their PhD projects and shared their research. During their time in Tromsø the guests also visited institutions including the Sámi Parliament, Gáisi the Sámi language center in Tromsø Municipality, and the Tromsø Museum.

meeting mis students and ?

PhD researchers from Umeå and Masters students attend attending guest lecture with artist Geir Tore Holm
Photo: Lis-Mari Hjortfors


Visiting Researchers

Isabelle Brannlund
Isabelle is a post-doctoral researcher whose main interest is in Sámi history and land use. She is interested in this area as it is key in understanding the dynamics of so many historical issues such as power relations, decision making, and identity which are pertinent to Sámi people. She plans to continue researching among Sámi peoples on issues of health and wellbeing.
She came to Tromsø with expectations of meeting new people, building new relationships and learning more about the Masters programme in Indigenous Studies at the Center of Sámi Studies. She is impressed with the way the programme is organized and its continent.  She is also grateful to Focal Point North for preparing and sponsoring student field trips and excursions and wishes for more collaborations with other universities for the benefit of the students.

Networking around the fire in Árdna

PhD students from Umeå and colleagues from Sesam enjoy a meal and discussion around the fire in Árdna
Photo: Bjørn Hatteng

Kristina Belancic
Kristina is a second year PhD student at Umeå Sweden, interested in languages, teaching, and learning in different contexts. She wishes to understand the situation of teaching and learning in Sámi schools using Sámi language. She became interested in this area during her Masters, where she wrote about the representation of Sámi women in literature and documentaries. She is impressed with the Masters programme in Indigenous Studies offered at University of Tromsø because it offers a deeper understanding of Indigenous Peoples to the students.
Her expectations of coming to Tromsø were meeting and networking with other researchers and learning more about the Center for Sámi Studies.

Johan Runemark Brydsten
Johan is pursuing a PhD in Religious studies focusing on Educational Science. His research topic relates to informal education and contextual Sámi Christianity. He is particularly interested in confirmation courses for Sámi members of the Swedish National Church. He is curious to discover the role that confirmation courses may play in processes of reconciliation. He was motivated to pursue his PhD by his background training as a religious studies teacher and courses in Sámi religion taken during his Master’s degree in Umeå.
Johan came to UiT to meet fellow scholars and foster cooperation, discuss ethics and methodology and be inspired. He is also interested in the role of UiT as an Arctic university and the exciting research taking place at Sesam.

Visiting researchers from Umeå

Kristina Belancic, Johan Runemark Brydsten, Isabelle Brännlund, Anders Haglund
Photo: Lis-Mari Hjortfors

Anders Haglund
Anders’ research interests are nationalism, the effects of colonization as a complex historical phenomena, and concepts of ingenuousness . His PhD topic examines indigenous health in Sweden, New Zealand, and Australia. He was motivated to pursue a PhD on Sámi issues due to his disappointment on finding that Sámi people were not included in the Swedish national narrative during his training as a secondary school teacher.
Anders came to Tromsø in the hopes of finding out about the research taking place here which had been discussed in his courses in Umeå. He has enjoyed the visibility of Sámi culture and perspectives at UiT and believes that here Sámi people are more accepted as part of historical discourses. In contrast, at Umeå University history department, he is the only person researching Sámi history and believes there is stigma directed toward Sámi Research in Sweden. During his stay in Tromsø he has enjoyed meeting new people and hearing new ideas while enjoying the nature and fjords surrounding the island.

Lis-Mari Hjortfors
Lis-Mari is researching Læstadianism in the Lule Sámi area of Norway and Sweden. She is interested in the effect of Læstadianism on Sámi culture and will interview communities and priests in the movement. She has been motivated to pursue this topic in part due to her family history as her grandmother’s father was a Læstadian priest. During her time working at Árran Museum in Tysfjord many people spoke highly of his religious work and his role in maintaining the Sámi language and identity.
She has enjoyed finding out about the work of Sesam, meeting new people and talking with fellow student about Sámi issues.

Sami Week 2015

Sami Week 2015

Written by Vanessa Brune. Pictures by Björn Hatteng.


As part of Sami Week in Tromso and Sami National Day on the 6th February, UIT The Arctic University of Norway hosted the Barents Indigenous People’s Congress and the Barents Indigenous 2050 Conference Impacts of our footprints over February 4th and 5th. A delegation of Sami politicians from both Scandinavia and Russia attended the events, as well as representatives of the Nenets and Veps of Russia.

The congress marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples (WGIP), which is part of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, and which therefore also was the main organizer of the event. WGIP consists of six members of the Sami Parliamentary Council and other indigenous peoples’ organizations who are advisors to the Barents Euro-Arctic Council as well as the Barents Regional Council (more info here). Continue reading

Barents Indigenous Peoples’ Congress and Conference

Barents Indigenous Peoples’ Congress and Conference 2015

During Sami week, UiT The Arctic University of Norway will be hosting the Barents Indigenous Peoples’ Congress and the conference Indigenous Barents 2050: Impacts of our footprints. The Congress is being organized in collaboration with the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples (WGIP), the Barents Indigenous Peoples’ Office (BIPO), the Norwegian Barents Secretariat and the Centre for Sami Studies at the University of Tromsø.

In addition to taking part during Sami week in Tromsø, which leads up to Sami National Day on February 6th, the Congress is celebrating 20 years of Indigenous cooperation in the Barents region. During the Congress, Indigenous representatives from the Nenets, Veps, and Sami peoples will present the latest developments and news from their homelands in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. They will also discuss the Action Plan for Indigenous Peoples in the Barents 2013-2016, and begin a dialogue on the upcoming 2017-2020 Action Plan. This will mark the third Congress on Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region.

The Congress will be held on February 4th, 2015 and will be followed by a conference on Indigenous languages and extractive industries on February 5th. Continue reading

Patrik Lantto discusses his work with Focal Point North

Patrik Lantto discusses his work with Focal Point North

By Vanessa Brune and Chelsea Mackay – Students in the Masters of Indigenous Studies program


Adjunct professor Patrik Lantto recently had time to sit down for an interview in Tromsø before making his way back to Umeå University, where he is a professor in History. You can watch an edited version of the interview here.

Bringing History to Focal Point North

Lantto has been working with Focal Point North for almost a year now. As an adjunct professor, he holds a 20% position, and splits his time between Tromsø and Umeå. He brings a historical perspective to the project, as well as a Swedish one. During his childhood, Lantto moved all over Sweden, from a small village near Piteå, to Stockholm and Malmö. He would start his university career in the field of Political Science at Umeå University. Eventually Lantto would move on to study history, but it would not be until beginning his PhD that he would start to specialize in Sweden’s Sami history. Continue reading

Interview with Wenche Spjelkavik

Interview with Wenche Spjelkavik – Focal Point North Contributor

By Vanessa Brune and Chelsea Mackay – Students in the Masters of Indigenous Studies program

Wenche Spjelkavik

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background.

My name is Wenche Spjelkavik, and since 2009 I have been employed as the head of the Sulitjelma mining museum, and the Sulitjelma visitor’s mine. I am educated as a journalist and have majored in economic history, but I have also been a miner for several years.

Tell us about your work. 

I was born and raised in Sulitjelma, and it was after the mining stopped, that I started to study. I worked for several years for a newspaper, before I became a freelancer and had a part-time job at a public library. After that I have been working at Nordlandsmuseet in Sulitjelma.

Having responsibility for a visitor’s mine is a big challenge, and as a historian, I am proud to have been able to renovate the mine, and to create a good mineral exhibit at the mining museum.

How did you become interested in Sami history?

My interest in Sami history has always been there. I grew up with a father who was a good storyteller, and he told us a lot about the lives of famous Sami people in our area. I can remember the first time I realized that there were children living in the mountains around Sulitjelma. I was about five years old, and was sick with the mumps. My aunt, who ran a small hotel for the mining company, came to visit me. She told me then that the same day, a little Sami girl had arrived from Staloluokta, a small place behind the Sulitjelma Mountains. The little girl came to the hotel, riding on the back of a reindeer; she had something in her eye, and the eye had become inflamed. The nearest doctor was at the mining company’s hospital. I dreamt of becoming friends with the girl, and to join her at her home behind the mountains. But before I recovered from the mumps, the girl had left Sulitjelma. Five years later, a small airplane disappeared in the Sulitjelma Mountains. The whole community listened to the radio for news, and after a few days we heard that the airplane was found. It had crashed into a mountainside and the pilot and a family had died. Many years after this I learned that the girl I dreamt about, had died in this accident. Continue reading

Focal Point North Awards Scholarships to Master’s Students in Indigenous Studies

Focal Point North Awards Scholarships to Master’s Students in Indigenous Studies

By Vanessa Brune and Chelsea Mackay – Students in the Masters of Indigenous Studies program


Pictured from left to right: Lukas Kosner, Simon Pavall and Siv-Eli Vuolab

In fall 2014, Master’s students Lukas Kosner, Simon Pavall and Siv-Eli Vuolab were awarded Focal Point North scholarships. The students, who started the Masters of Indigenous Studies program at the University of Tromsø in August of 2014, come from different backgrounds, but share a love for the North.

Lukas Kosner, who originates from the Czech Republic, has a background in Norwegian and Finnish philology – the study of languages, literature, and culture. He plans to use this background to study language revitalization among the Sami in Finland, perhaps focusing on the Skolt Sami. In his Bachelor’s thesis, Kosner had already started to incorporate Sami perspectives, and he joined the Indigenous Studies program in order to deepen his understanding of Indigenous and minority issues, particularly in the North. He enjoys living in Tromsø, specifically for its size, natural beauty, and local culture, and he plans to stay here after graduation. Continue reading

Greg Poelzer Visits UiT

Adjunct Professor Greg Poelzer Visits UiT

By Vanessa Brune and Chelsea Mackay – Students in the Masters of Indigenous Studies program


On October 22nd, 2014, Focal Point North held a lunch seminar at the Sami Centre at the University of Tromsø, entitled “Canadian and Swedish Indigenous Politics”. Presenting the challenges and opportunities facing the Sami in Sweden was adjunct professor Patrik Lantto, while Canadian Indigenous issues were represented by his colleague Greg Poelzer. Poelzer joined the Focal Point North team last spring, and this was his second visit to Norway since starting his position as adjunct professor. In this role, Poelzer will visit Norway two to three times per year and will be responsible for organizing seminars which will focus on northern issues such as climate change, globablization, Indigenous governance, etc. When he is not in Norway, Poelzer holds positions as an associate professor in Political Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, the executive chair of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development and leads the UArctic Thematic Network on Northern Governance. Continue reading