Long time ago when I was backpacking my garden called Europe I found myself in Jokkmokk, sweden. In the little village just above the polar circle was a festival; the indigenous terra madre, this year hosted by the Sami. This is the place where I first heard a joik. I was blown away by the beauty of it and left me in awe.
Now 7 years later it’s time to return to jokkmokk. This time a starting point for a new adventure.
Sami, the people of the north.
The sami are the original people of the north. They live there since centuries and are connected with the land. They are the reindeer sheperds, living not by the clock but by the seasons and reindeer. The last indigenous people of northwestern europe. But their ways of living are under threat. Mining devours the land where reindeer once grazed, logging changed their surroundings. The Sami culture has been under attack as well. Sami children being taken away from their families to go to bording schools where they were indoctrinated to live a western, non Sami life. On the schools it was not allowed to speak Sami or sing in the typical Sami style, the joik. The Sami have a rich culture of arts, crafts and music. This journey I will research the future of the joik and their musical culture. Below is a video from Mari Boine, a Sami musician.
Hike and bike the Northern lands.
My journey will start in Jokkmokk, Sami centre of sweden. Here in springtime is the biggest Sami market in the world. From Jokkmokk I will travel 500 km north by bike to Manndalen where the Riddu Riddu festival is held. This festival is a gathering and party from all kinds of indigenous peoples around the world. During the four days of the festival I will work there, helping out and meeting the artists. Working with them as closely as I can, allows me to see first hand how the future of the joik and Sami music looks and sounds like. From there on I will walk/cycle to kilpisjärvi where part of the Nordkalotruta is. The route streches out to Kautokeino, some 190 kilometers away. Kautokeino being the Sami capital of Norway. Walking this far over the trail allows me to really feel the Sami lands. See where the reindeer graze in winter and where the last reindeer sheperds roam. From Kautokeino I make my way to Karasjok and further to Inari in Finland. The mode of transportation is still unknown since the lands are harsh and rough. No hiking trails are excisting there, just one road through the swamps, hills, lakes and empty taiga. To hike in these conditions asks for experience and knowledge of the surrounding. And best a travel partner. A solo hike can be right out dangerous.
The journey will start the 28th of june. And will end probably around the end of September, when temperatures are plumbing and winter starts almost instant. To keep track of this adventure you can follow me on instagram and facebook as well as (less frequent) more detailed writings on my website.