Photos by Marzena Skubatz
Words by Frank Wagner

 

 

Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen is a Norwegian Sámi musician from the muni­cipality of Tana in Finnmark. Aged just 21, she is something of a youth idol in Norway because of her close bonds with the Sámi tradition, the music she creates with her band, Isak, and her commitment to the environment in the eco-organisation, Natur og Ungdom.

 

 

Natur og Ungdom

Nature and Youth, also known as Young Friends of the Earth Norway, is the largest youth organisation for environmental issues in Norway. It seeks to carve out a position at the leading edge of issues, speaking out on what needs to be done. The organisation ­ensures environmental problems have a firm place on the agenda, puts pressure on politicians and bureaucrats and points out environmentally friendly solutions. Ever-increasing consumption of resources is the main cause of environmental problems. Nature and Youth enables young people to work in their home towns on addressing the issues that most concern them. Local matters are placed in a wider context. All the small, local environmental problems taken together as a whole constitute the greatest threat to life on earth. In the summer of 2018 Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen passed on her active roles in the environmental organisation to others with the aim of spending more time on her music with her band, Isak.

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Isak

With her band, Isak, she constantly seeks out connections to the ­music within her Sámi tradition. Joiking a guttural style of singing in which sounds are more important than lyrics is probably the best-known form of artistic expression among the Sámi people. Joiks are classically performed a cappella without instruments. The style was also sung by Sámi shamans to a drum accompaniment. During the progress of Christianisation, joiking was long forbidden as an expression of the ancient religion. Sámi artists were, and often still are, poli­tical ambassadors of their people. Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen won the 2016 Sámi Grand Prix with her original song Luoddaearru (Crossroad), and won Liet International in 2017.

 

 

 

 

Sápmi

The Sámi are classed as a small indigenous Nordic people; up to 140,000 in number, they occupy territory stretching from the town of Idre in southern Sweden through the northern regions of Sweden, Norway and Finland and to the north-east as far as the White Sea coast and the Barents Sea in Russia. The area they inhabit is often expressed in simplified terms as Lapland, although it is more extensive than the provinces of Lapland in Sweden and Lapin Lääni in Finland. The Sámi name for this territory is Sápmi or Same Ätnam. Its people live from hunting, fishing and reindeer farming. Their name has varied over time; before the name Sámi was generally adopted, they were known by their own name of sámit, with Sápmi as the name of the lands they inhabit.

 

 

The Nordic peoples are more sensitive to change than any other in the world. This can be attributed to the naturally based life of the indigenous peoples in the region, among them the Sámi, but also to the vulnerability of the entire Arctic ecosystem. With glacial melt as the most obvious indicator of global warming, awareness of global changes is particularly prevalent in the northern regions of our planet.

 

 

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