His Majesty The King was in attendance at the official opening of the Tråante 2017 centennial celebration today. The celebration marks the 100th anniversary of the first congress of the Sami people, which was held on 6 February 1917 in Trondheim.
One hundred years ago today, representatives from many parts of Sápmi (the Sami areas) came together for the first time to promote their cause as one people across national borders. Elsa Laula Renberg, a pioneering activist for Sami rights, was the organiser of the first Sami congress held at the Trondheim United Methodist Church in 1917. Her work is being honoured today.
Sami National Day has been celebrated on 6 February since 1993.
Centennial church service
King Harald's programme in Trondheim today began with a centennial church service at Nidaros Cathedral, where he was received by Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien of the Church of Norway and Sara Ellen Anne Eira of the Sami Church Council. Guests included representatives of Sápmi and of official Norwegian institutions.
During the entry procession, the Southern Sami singer Marja Mortensson sang the psalm “Aejlies gåatan båetebe laavloen” [Fill God's House with Songs that Praise Him]. The psalm segued into an organ prelude to the Norwegian psalm “Lovsyng Herren, han er nær” [Praise the Lord, for He is Nigh], which was sung at the first congress 100 years ago.
Bishop Byfuglien gave the sermon, and the church service was concluded with the congregation singing the Sami national anthem.
Sami ornamental installation
Earlier that morning a new altar was inaugurated in the southern transept of the Nidaros Cathedral. The artist Folke Fjällström created an installation featuring the figure of Christ in birch, using traditional Sami craftmanship and Sami ornamental decoration.
Before leaving the cathedral the King had the opportunity to view the altar, which will be a permanent installation in this national monument.
“Bååstede” – homecoming
Following the church service, King Harald opened the exhibition entitled “Bååstede”, which means “homecoming” in the Southern Sami language, at the Archbishop’s Palace Museum. The exhibition displays Sami artefacts from the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History that are now being returned to the Sami people, to museums administered under the Sámediggi (Sami Parliament). Two thousand artefacts are being returned.
The artefacts were collected between 100 to 150 years ago, at a time when the Sami people had little influence on important political and social issues affecting their lives.
An agreement on the return was signed in 2012 in a formal ceremony at the Sámediggi in Karasjok. In the years since then, the artefacts have been subject to intensive conservation, mapping and quality assurance of information. The project will be concluded in 2017.
This evening, the King will be in attendance at the centennial concert at Olavshallen, which features a performance of “Jielemen aavoe” [The Joy of Life]. The performance is a collaboration between the Sami National Theatre Beaivváš and the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra (KORK). It includes texts, joiks, dance, pictures and music about the will and ability to live, face challenges and move ahead. It is a celebration of life as well as a commemoration of those who died along the way. The performance will feature singers, musicians, actors, dancers and artists from all over Sápmi, including Mari Boine, Sofia Jannok, Marja Mortensson, Iŋgor Ántte Áilu Gaup, Bjørn Sundquist, Egil Keskitalo and Mary Sarre.
The evening will conclude with a gala dinner hosted by the Sámediggi at Bakklandet.
Tråante 2017 is a joint celebration of the Sami centennial jubilee. The aim is to disseminate knowledge about Sami culture and history from the past 100 years and to encourage development and participation.
The centennial celebration will continue throughout the year, with events in various places throughout Sápmi. The diversity of the programme will reflect the diversity of Sami culture, language and history. A list of events may be found on the Tråante 2017 website.
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