This year during the winter market in Jokkmokk I had an exhibition with Saami drums from all the Saami areas of Sweden. It is a huge field to explore and I have made extensive research, both practical and academic. I made my first drum way back in 2001 and not until now, 16 years later, I felt that I would be able to make this exhibition in a way that is both respectfull and true to the tradition.
I made this exhibition because it felt important and like something that had to be done. I made four drums wich was for Saami customers only with the idea that if a Saami wanted a drum it wouldnt be expensive and even possible to trade for something like antler or handicraft. I wanted the drum to be accesible to all Saami people. It is our spiritual heritage wich all Saami have the right to explore. No one can stop us from doing that anymore.
Then why this exhibition at the market in Jokkmokk? The winter market of Jokkmokk and many other markets in the north of Sweden came to be because the Swedish state wanted to be able to control the trade with the Saami people. At the markets they traded with us, took in taxes and handled church affairs like baptisms and weddings. Heres the deal, if you can force people to pay taxes and baptize them in the Swedish church then you can claim the people and the land as Swedish territory, then as well as now it is about land, resources and greed. The church and state went hand in hand in colonizing us.
A brutal and merciless mission against the Saami was a natural part of the colonization. During the 16th and the 17th century our ancestors was under the threat of harsh punishments forced to give up their most sacred items, the drums. It was a theft sanctioned by the state and executed by church and local authorities. It was a theft not only of the drums but of our innermost thoughts and beliefs, religious oppression. The authorities threatened us with prison and lashing, the church with eternal damnation in hell. In some places they accused us for witchcraft and burned us at the stake along with the drums. They where determined to make us christian and in that way force us in under the states control. Even today the states all over the world wants indigenous people to forget our spirituality and that nature is sacred.
It is about time we take back the drum and with it our spiritual heritage.
With this exhibition I wanted to spread the drum and the knowledge about it to all Saami. So if you are a Saami and interested in a drum and want to know more about it then I would be glad to help you. When you as a Saami pick up the drum and strike it, then you erase 300 years of colonilization one strike at a time.
As of now I have three drums left from the exhibiton, one Northern Saami drum, one Lule Saami drum and one South Saami drum. They are all still meant for Saami customers…
My old friend and mentor, Ailo Gaup, once said that the drum and the knowledge about it never got lost, it just hid under ground and behind the stars.
We have names for the sacred drum in all Saami languages
Govadas – Goabdes – Gåbddá – Gievrie