"The Sami used to believe that the northern lights were the souls of our ancestors dancing on the sky"
So I was thinking about our History component because Star had something in mind for Japan but had a brain fart & can no longer remember what it was she wanted to learn about. Happens to that child. However we have History down as one of our *subjects* ~ though history according to me looks nothing like your regular text book because your regular text book bores me to tears. Like my child I have an aversion to being bored. I avoid it at all costs. I like to do history both in depth & as widely as possible & if you want to be assured of learning something you never knew before you choose something a little left of center, something a little oddballish, something different. What we are studying this term are the Sami.
The Sami are the reindeer people of Northern Scandinavia. At some point they migrated across the top of Russia into Alaska & that was why I was initially curious. Who on earth hikes across Russian Siberia to put down roots in another icy wasteland? Oh, & the fact they have over 300 words to describe ice & snow ~ bearing in mind people it does not snow in my neck of the woods! What on earth can you find to say about stuff that's white, wet & cold? A lot apparently.
Like the Gypsy, like the North American Indian or the Australian Aborigine, the Sami have become a minority ethnic group within their own country & the dominant culture has subtly but inexorably marginalised them until even their language is endangered. This is inevitable when one culture takes over another. In the Sami's case that would make us all the poorer. Their language belongs to the Finno~Ugric family ~ a language group that has arguably the most difficult languages of all for non~native speakers to learn. I used to haunt a language board & learnt all sorts of odd things like only the African click~click languages are worse than Finnish or Hungarian to learn & grammatically Finnish is more difficult. Mind you, there was always someone who knew an even more obscure language who would argue this point but the general consensus was these are the hardest European languages . Even Chinese Mandarin & Arabic are supposedly easier. I wouldn't know. I struggle with French & German & mangle both admirably.
Now Sami is a nature language with a wealth of concepts for all things related to the weather, to the terrain, to the natural conditions around them ~ hence the 300 different words for snow! However what really intrigued me was the concept of *joik*. A joik is a song/poem, usually chanted a capella, slowly & deep in the throat, that is composed & sung in isolation, deeply personal or spiritual. You do not sing *about* something or someone, you sing them; their essence, how & what you perceive them to be.
Old hippie that I am I never outgrew my folk roots so musically this is somewhere I am very comfortable & for Star it adds to the depository of musical knowledge. So I went scrounging around on you tube so we could actually listen to some of this stuff ~ not something likely to impress Star. She likes her songs to make musical sense in the culture she understands. Just the same this is possibly the oldest living musical tradition & I was fascinated to find it transposed well to heavy metal. I loved this. Can't you just hear the wide sky, the icy wastes? Mari Boine uses joik elements more traditionally but here is a traditional joik, sung in very untraditional surrounds.
So what do you think? Good, huh?