Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Monday, February 14, 2011

"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 costsI 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?


Verjuice said...

Great post Ganeida, it is refreshing to read about your acceptance of the things a little left of center. We were just talking today about how the Australian Aborigines were not builders and architects like the Mayans or Aztecs. It is such a benefit for a nomadic lifestyle compared to a sedentary 21st Century one.

Diane Shiffer said...

I came over here expressly to NOT wish you a Happy Valentine's Day, since I know how you feel about Valentine-y sorts of nonsense;-}

And guess what? We learned about this same people group this year in our history also! We are doing American History with Sonlight, which means that we actually study a lot about America pre-European exploration/invasion/settlement. Although that probably seems like a no-brainer to anyone non-American, the very idea is pretty innovative... when I was growing up the subject of "American History" started when the (very sanitized) story of Columbus. So all that to say, I am learning much of this material right along with the kids for the very first time. As to why the Sami ventured over to America from Russia in the first place, the theory we learned is that initially a hunting expedition came over whilst chasing game. Of course there is no way to know what the true story is, but it seems as good of a theory as any;-}

Ganeida said...

Diane! I have been visiting the Turtle Heart! ♥ We didn't do the American Sonlight unit. Maybe we should have? However we have done plenty of Viking stuff ~ well, we would, wouldn't we given their inscursions into Celtic territories? ;P So I knew bits & pieces ~ enough to make me think Star wouldn't mind this too much. lol The music is wonderful though & we always make a point of looking at the music & art of any people we study ~ so much for more traditional hiostory! *yawn*

Appreciate the non~Valentine sentiments

seekingmyLord said...

It is very, very sad that so much of history like this, which would have been interesting to me, was not taught in schools where I went. I am looking forward to really exploring history with the Princess as we homeschool. I enjoy all Native American music very much and am thankful for the Internet!

Ganeida said...

Seeking: It wasn't taught in my schools either. I was fortunate. I had a King Arthur obsession & in researching that I found a *live* history that has fascinated me ever since. So much of what is taught in school is misnamed history when all it really is is politics ~ & politics bore me to tears.

Turtleheart said...

Hahaha, an aversion to being bored. I've got me some of that. History is amazing though, history is my favourite thing! Native history is particularly close to my heart, being part native american myself :)

At the risk of sounding lame (well, not really. Nothing I ever say is lame.) HOMESCHOOL IS COOLSCHOOL.

Joyfulmum said...

sounds like you've found the perfect history course for Star and for *you* :) I was bored stiff at school with history and looking forward to enjoying it second time around with my dd, will keep you posted...:)

Ganeida said...

Turtleheart: At uni I did a term on The Trail of Tears ~ et al. Fascinating stuff ~ but I am fascinated how similar all cultures are at their roots. I think homeschool is coolskool but Star has an aversion to being educated. lol

Finding Joy said...

I have learnt something new - I love finding out these sorts of things - so thank you as I am likely to go off and find out more.

It is such a pity that kids at school aren't taught these things, I love history and I am sure most kids would be if it was taught correctly. I watched many documentaries with my sons and gradually I was about to teach them all sorts of things they were missing out at school. My son's girlfriend was visiting the other day and my son (Caius) was talking about WWII and Millie didn't have a clue - I realised how much I have taught my sons that is simply not taught at school - tragic.

Ganeida said...

Rosemary: I think we x~posted. lol Do keep me posted. You have a head start culturally on the rest of us ~ though Braveheart is likely to get me started on those blasted Sasseneach! lol
Jo: Star is weird. We have Irish friends who can run circles around Star when it comes to discussing the actual war [wwii] but they have never heard [let alone understood] one of Hitler's speeches in the original like Star has & know almost nothing about what drove the man to try & rule the world. Star on the other hand did a whole term just on Hitler & in many ways has a much deeper understanding of that war than they do ~ though having 4 years of German helped. lol She chose to listen to his speeches & says he is mesmerizing. To me he looks & sounds like a headless chook but my German is very basic. Star wass never going to be interested in which Panzer division did what when where ....& ancient history is even more esoteric. Everyone does Egypt & Egypt is dull compared to other choices though there is now stuff I know about the Aztecs I really didn't need to know! lol