Finland Returns Thousands Of Artifacts To Sámi Homeland In Lapland

Finland Returns Thousands Of Artifacts To Sámi Homeland In Lapland
Written by Publishing Team

The Finnish National Museum in Helsinki recently returned its Semitic collection of more than 2,000 artifacts collected over a period of 170 years beginning in the 1830s to the Sami Sieda Museum in Inari, Sábmi. The two museums, in collaboration with representatives of the Sami community, have created an exhibition entitled “Mäccmõš, maccâm, máhccan – The Homecoming”, on display until February 27, 2022.

The Sami are an indigenous people who live mostly in the northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway and western Russia, known as the Sábmi or Lapland.

“Repatriation is currently a hot topic in the museum sector around the world and challenges us to rethink the role and power of museums,” Elena Antilla, director general of the Finnish National Museum, said in a statement. “As the focus has shifted to cultural diversity, the ability of people and population groups to identify their own cultural heritage and decide on its use is becoming increasingly important.”

The exhibition focuses on objects in the collection in the context of tradition and history, and “illustrates vibrant Semitic culture and sparks ideas about the importance, value and ownership of cultural heritage,” the show’s organizers said in their announcement of the news, “and does not shy away from critical examination of historical sore points.”

The display includes a selection of returned works alongside that of contemporary Sami artisans and artists, texts and stories by Sami storytellers, and archival materials. explanatory texts in the six languages; Three Semitic languages ​​are currently spoken in Finland.

“The repatriation process has increased the interest of the Sami communities in the museum’s holdings and made our work as a private Sami museum more visible,” said Sari Falconen, director of the Sami Museum, Sieda Museum, in a statement. “Soon, we will see all the positive effects that this repatriation will bring.”

A ten-member working group made up of museum experts from Siida and the National Museum of Finland, and representatives and contemporary artists from the Semitic community were consulted for the exhibition.

“It brings our past closer to us than Sami and enables us to study and reconnect with our cultural heritage on our own terms,” ​​said Annie Guturm, curator of the Sami Museum in Sieda and a member of the working group, in a statement. “It is a symbolic gesture to recognize the right of the Sami people to manage their cultural heritage.”

The Finnish National Museum said it has worked actively to highlight the importance of the museum’s collections not only in terms of the right to cultural heritage, but also as part of the sustainability of culture. In 2020, the remains of Pueblo Indians’ ancestors with associated funerary objects from the 13th century are returned to the Alliance of Native American tribes, part of a collection set up by Swedish geologist Gustav Nordenskiold in the 1890s.

“We hope that the collaboration between the Finnish National Museum and the Sami Sieda Museum will show the way forward worldwide,” said Antilla, Director General of the National Museum. “Cultural heritage has a key role in dealing with problematic history. At its best, repatriation is a process that allows us to take responsibility for our past mistakes in a constructive way.”

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