400 Year Jokkmokk Jubilee Market 2005
400 Års Jokkmokks Jubileum Marknad 2005
This is the month of February and as in every year since 2005, I am reminded in of a wonderful adventure. In 2005 my husband and I had an invitation from a dear friend of my husband’s to attend the 400 Year Jokkmokk Jubilee Market. For me this was of particular importance because I knew that this market was given by Sweden’s indigenous people the Sami. As a woman with Native American heritage, I knew of these people and had always found them fascinating. Never in a million years had I ever thought that I would actually meet them and learn first hand about their culture.
The Sami live in what is known as Sapmi which is the range in which these people live. Sapmi includes, Norway, Sweden, Finland and even Russia. They have lived in the northern most areas of Sweden for 7,00 years. Today the numbers have risen and the population of Sapmi is around 40,000. The language of the Sami people is divided into two, the North and the South language. The Sami have historically lived by hunting and fishing. The reindeer is the focal point of Sami culture. They have lived, until recently as a nomadic people following their reindeer far up into the northern mountains. They found this to be of great advantage to their much prized reindeer; the pastures in the mountain tops were rich and the brisk winds that blow there blow away all insects and mosquitos.
Progress and changing times has caught up with the Sami as with every other indigenous people around the world. Most Sami live in towns and villages today and are no longer the nomads of the past. The men now take care of the reindeer . The reindeer round ups are now done in a very modern way with the use of snow mobiles and sometimes with the use of helicopters. The run of the reindeer has always been an issue here in Sweden as have the Sami themselves. Up to the 50’s the Sami were treated as all indigenous people and pushed to the fringes of societies and made to conform with the “Swedish” way of life. For instance, the children of Sami families were not allowed in normal Swedish schools with normal Swedish children. There were special schools for them to attend and in those schools, they were forbidden to speak their own language. It must have been horrific for these families and children. During this time, everything possible was done to erase the Sami culture. Sound familiar? This seems to happen around the world to all indigenous people. Thank fully this has changed with the times with the Sami fight for equality. In 1971 the government passed the Reindeer Husbandry Act allowing the Sami to be able to pass over private and government land to move their reindeer. The Sami , even today are not allowed to own land. This Act of 1971 has been a bone of contention with the Swedish farmers and people in general. Even though the forests and pastures are shrinking due to mining, deforestation and the construction of hydroelectric power plants, leaving very little land for the Sami to move their reindeer, Swedish people are still not comfortable with the Sami’s movements. The issues are with the Sami reindeer movements through farm land and leaving damage. This would not have been an issue if the Sami had the lands they used to use, but they do not.
The Jokkmokk Market has been a historic event and has been in the same location since the 1600’s. During the early years, the market was a place for trading, exchanging of much needed goods for the, nomadic people. There was hand ground corn meal, handmade ointments, wool, cloth and very important, shoes. In today’s markets, Sami have on display and for sale all the same items that were once traded, long ago. Now these items are available to visitors from all over the world. Sami come from all 4 countries in Sampi to show and sell their handcrafts. They enjoy celebrating together and meeting Sami from other lands. There were more than 80,000 visitors to the 400 year Market in 2005.
This was an experience of a life time for me. I will never, ever forget all the wonderful experiences and personal encounters I had at the Marknad.
Please allow me to share some of that experience with you:
Throughout the Marknad, we saw several dogs that caught my eye :
We were invited to a beautiful formal dinner during the Marknad week:
While around the Marknad, we heard, through the grapevine that there was going to be a huge dance. We were given a special invitation. There were not many non-Sami invited. We were the only ones of our group that went. It was fabulous! Wait till you see everyone decked out in their finest traditional Sami clothes:
There was much more to our trip, but I will save that for later. I hope you have enjoyed a peak at the world of the Sami and their 400 year Marknad.
(These photos were taken with a different camera and the photos become distorted when enlarged, so this is why the photos are smaller than usual)