Ove Kåven

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Jenny L. M. (2022-04-04 10:55:11)
Mr Kaaven,

Thank you for the information about Johan Turi and Ailo Gaup. I will sure be studying their work. What you said about the missionaries persecuting and exterminating traces of shamanism sounds like a sad story. This also made me investigate the period when the persecution was taking place, and a friend of mine from Finnmark offered me an update on this whenever I asked her about it. Amongst other things, she particularly shed some light on what happened in Eastern Finnmark back then. She specifically mentioned one Isaac Olsen, he entered the scene in cooperation with Thomas von Westen. From what she said this here Isaac Olsen was literally using a wrecking ball to demolish the ancient Sami shamanism.

I have heard that there’s a presence of conservative Christianity in Sápmi. Could this be traced back to the missionaries or is it merely a consequence of social conditions during the 19th and 20th century?

Best regards,

By “conservative Christianity”, do you mean læstadianism? If so, then probably both, but maybe not in the obvious way. There’s now a movie related to it, “Kautokeino-opprøret” (the Kautokeino Rebellion, IMDb), which says something about how this branch of Christianity actually inspired the Sámi people to fight back against Norwegian exploitation and systemic oppression (albeit with tragic results). The movie probably explains the social conditions and reasons for its adoption better than I could. But if you’re unable to watch it, I’ll say that it shows, among other things, how greedy Norwegian traders would, for example, encourage alcohol addiction among the Sámi in order to make them easier to exploit. Thus, Læstadianism, where alcohol abuse is a sin, was a way to stop this and give the Sámi people back at least some of their free will.

As for Isaac Olsen, as I recall, there were things von Westen wrote that suggest that one of the reasons Isaac was so effective at destroying Sámi religion, was because Isaac had special “insights”, i.e. shamanic powers, himself. Which may help explain how Sámi shamanism managed to hold on through hundreds of years of persecution before Isaac, but lost against him.