Tales of a Sámi
The Sámi people are storytellers. Throughout time the Sámi have passed on their oral history through telling stories to each other – often this was as the families gathered together in the evenings in their goahti or turf huts.
My father did the same, but he recorded his stories onto cassette tapes. He left his tape collection with me, and asked me to pass his tales onto others.
I have many memories of my father telling me his stories as I was growing up. He was a commercial fisherman on the west coast of Canada. On weekends, I would spend my days in his boathouse, as he repaired his nets. And there was always a story or 2 to listen to as we drank his boiled coffee and enjoyed my mother’s baking. The stories ranged from his early days growing up in Sápmi to his days in the merchant marines, and to his fishing adventures on the west coast.
In the 1960’s – 1970’s my Dad started to record the tales of his life onto cassette tapes. Often he couldn’t afford new tapes, so his friends would bring him some of their old tapes – he would record over old Elvis tapes, country music tapes and whatever he found. A few months before he passed away, he pulled out his cardboard box of tapes and asked that I pass these stories on to others when the time comes.
I have attempted over the years to make copies of them, and to transcribe them all. The stories are spoken in his Finnish dialect of ‘Finliska’ ( a Canadian term for a blend of Finnish mixed in with some Canadian English) This was difficult to do as recording and typing the translations was very slow and difficult. The technology has changed now with the introduction of better digital recording equipment and AI language tools, so I have started to work on this project again.
Some of the cassette tapes have deteriorated over time so the sound quality is poor. I am finding that with some of the tapes, I have one chance to re-record them, and they self-destruct. (much like Mission Impossible…)
His tales range from his early days growing up in Petsamo, Finland – (Pechenga, Russia), to immigrating to Canada and working as a commercial fisherman on the west coast of British Columbia.
In these tales of his life, I note that he does refer to himself as a ‘Lappi’ – Laplander. To him, this was not a ‘derogatory’ term as it is sometimes considered to be in modern times. A Lap or Lappalainen was just what he was. He didn’t really understand why he was treated badly by others. Sámi life was very difficult and challenging in those days. The north was a harsh climate, winters were long and resources were few. Life was lived on a day-to-day basis and the Sámi used whatever was available to them.
I will be posting these stories as YouTube videos onto my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/@Paivatar.
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This will take awhile to do. For example, the first video has taken about 2 weeks to complete 10 minutes of his first tape.
The stories are narrated by my father (in his voice). I have translated his words into English – and these can be displayed in CC – Closed Captions in the YouTube viewer.
The videos can also be viewed via CC – translated to other languages. This translation is done via YouTube/Google translation tools – so the translations may not be linguistically accurate. If there is a language that has not been translated yet, please leave a comment at the bottom of the video so I can add the translation.
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Categories: Tales of a Sámi