Arctic ancestral survivalism: on extreme weather Sami wisdom




The Sami people are one of the oldest semi-nomadic indigenous groups in the world. Traditionally herding reindeer in the Arctic regions of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula (the region is known as Sapmi), they learned to work with the rhythms of nature in order to survive the harsh climate.

“Nature is everything for us because we think we belong to Mother Earth,” explains Sami writer/artist/teacher Gunnel Heligfjell, “It is not as with Western European thinking that the earth belongs to us, to the human beings. We think that we belong to the earth like the animals and the plants and everything.”

Following the reindeer migrations, they built transportable homes called lavvu from wood and fabric (similar to Native American tipis, but less vertical to sustain high winds). They also have more permanent homes called goahti made from fabric, peat moss or timber and curved poles.

The reindeer are used for food and materials: clothing, shoes, tents, tools, toys, and handicraft. They even play a role in one of the Sami creation myths.

Gunnel Heligfjell is an artist/writer who teaches the Sami language to school children (recognized as an official Swedish minority language in 2000). While she lives in a more conventional home in Vilhelmina, Sweden most of the year, she still spends time in a goahti or lavvu during summer or hunting trips. She believes in this traditional self-reliance and knows how to build traditional shelters and still cures reindeer meat (from her husband’s herd) and makes shoes, bags and fabrics from the skins.

Original story:

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23 Comments

  1. Peter V
    October 26, 2017
    Reply

    lovely vid. i have so many questions what i would want to ask you.im also connected to a near culture.
    but its gone.im talking about the people who lived in the alps.none i guess exist any more in austria.i will try one question.
    do you know a tea that you use traditional beside coffee, and do you use alkohol even to in your drinks ?
    thanks a lot for this peaceful and informativ vid
    greetings

  2. Eleonora Roggekamp
    October 26, 2017
    Reply

    I can't shake off the idea that the Sami People were ones conected in a very long ago past with North American Indigious people.

  3. Trabiccolo
    October 26, 2017
    Reply

    There are vast territories which are basically uninhabited and people should be allowed to build their own house in nature. Everytime I am in the nature I wonder: whose belong the land? Honestly I feel like we have been brainwashed. I think nature would teach each one how to build their own house.
    But we wonder whom belongs the land. Who would protest if I build something here? So we have to buy it and be taxed. To demonstrate that we are enslaved culturally and mentally.

  4. J Simo
    October 27, 2017
    Reply

    Great video. Gives me more ideas about survival shelters. I wish that lady could read me to sleep every night. Such a kind soul.

  5. Mr Madazza
    October 28, 2017
    Reply

    Poor old rudolph

  6. spymaine89
    October 28, 2017
    Reply

    humans fail to understand they are doing the prime directive of ''Life herself, use up the resources , procreate , animals have done this on Earth's billions of years, when their resources are used up they will ''naturally go extinct, new life forms fill in consuming the resources made by prior life. . ''LIFE'' wants life to succeed , what form is irrelevant , do not weep for Earth she has it all under control.

  7. Branimir Marold
    October 28, 2017
    Reply

    thanks for sharing, respect!

  8. Steve Koppel
    November 2, 2017
    Reply

    That was awesome!

  9. Amy Wickersham
    November 2, 2017
    Reply

    I love this video!!! Back to the basics of simple living!!!!!

  10. Мурад
    November 5, 2017
    Reply

    Что за отверстие в сене, у пола ?

  11. Мурад
    November 5, 2017
    Reply

    стене

  12. Sara Elias
    November 7, 2017
    Reply

    She's right about one thing what happens if Government crashes and we're left with Le surviving in the wilderness she's totally correct!

  13. Marky Marco
    November 12, 2017
    Reply

    Poles, germans and russians, look your grandparents.

  14. S.j. sparber
    November 16, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you Kirsten for another beautiful gem of a docu-video!

  15. Anders Axelsen
    November 18, 2017
    Reply

    Can you go learn these skills from the locals?

  16. Gary Chynne
    November 24, 2017
    Reply

    thank you gare

  17. Guineith Isaacs
    November 24, 2017
    Reply

    My Dad always taught me about the Sami. I first learned about them as a child because we had a Samoyed, and they were the dogs of the Sami. I have always loved the Sami. My mother's people were Pictish people who had a lifestyle similar to the Sami. During the Genocide this woman speaks of, my ancestors lost their language, their life and culture, however, they did not lose their land because the Clan Chief had, centuries before, been made an Earl by the English, so they couldn't take his land. My mother's family is still on the same land that their ancestors were on during the Stone Age, and they let the Clan Members visit and camp on the land.

    When I meet a Pictish Soul, they remind me of my mother. They look like perhaps Maori crossed with English or Australian Aboriginal crossed with English, but they are a pure and ancient nation, not a Hybrid People. As a Pict, my mother would feel the Forest calling her. She would love to go walking in the Forest, for many miles, even when she was quite an old woman. And I live in a house in the forest, but I feel the Forest calling me too!

  18. Kodie On the Radio
    November 30, 2017
    Reply

    This is somewhat like my home…except my home is in America

  19. Fluidx808
    December 5, 2017
    Reply

    Interest contrast in cultures.

  20. Anita Stewart
    December 8, 2017
    Reply

    What a beautiful video. I just found out from a DNA test that I am mostly SAMI. What a surprise. I want to know more. Would love to see her narrate some books/recordings of SAMI history and traditions. A true wise woman!

  21. Tp The Golden
    December 17, 2017
    Reply

    i'm proud to be a sami

  22. Mieka Degerness
    December 21, 2017
    Reply

    an amazing tradition , not disturbing nature to much that's awesome

  23. med sousane
    January 3, 2018
    Reply

    i love this culture

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