2017/02/06

Where do I come from?

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Today the Sami people are celebrating Sami National Day. In short: The Sami people are the native Scandinavians and sadly (frustratingly) I didn't learn much about them when I grew up. Yes, one thing - that I was supposed to be ashamed of them, and I never understood why.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about where I come from. My passport says I'm born in Jukkasjärvi, Lapland, Sweden. My drivers license is German. My language is Swedish. I have a Greek first name. My last name dates back to the 18th century and only 148 people are called Juto in Sweden. And a few outside of Sweden. My address is in Germany. I grew up in Luleå and spent a lot of time at my grandparents in and outside of Korpilombolo where they all spoke a language called Meänkieli which I never learned - I could only pick up some words here and there and sometimes understand the context. From my grandmother's side I have some Walloon heritage, something she was bullied for when she grew up. The Walloon heritage is supposed to explain why I'm not as blonde as the "typical Swede". Johan says I look "exotic", but I have no idea - I'm face blind which results in having no clue what I look like.

So, back to Sami,
a thing that was never really spoken about among my relatives, was the Sami heritage. As a kid I heard small whispers about someone on my mother's side having intercourse with a Sami person which is supposed to explain why the people on my mother's side are pretty short. The fact that I was born in Lapland, was something people could bring up when they wanted to diminish me (Sandra is a Lapp bastard). I come from a pretty narrow-minded and also sometimes very racist upbringing (not only, I come from a lot of love and tolerance as well), a bipolar mix of really really mean & bitter people and really really loving & caring people. An uncle once told me that boys are much better than girls, and I believed him my entire childhood. Despite the kind and loving people I had around me, I always wanted to leave. I didn't feel at home and was, already before I was a teenager, dreaming of living in a big city far away. I guess I was one of those who never really fit in. Thank goodness for books, music, my diary and to draw.

As a teenager I was learning 7 languages and didn't at the time really question why - of course it was to compensate the fact that I was around people who spoke a language I didn't understand. I wanted to understand! If you have kids, please give them your language.

How things have been cannot be changed, and they have led me to where I am now; living in one of the most open-minded cities in the world. Probably with some Sami heritage, for sure with some Walloon heritage and who knows what else.

I stop now, for this time :)

Happy National Day, Sami people! It makes me glad to see you getting more attention among "the others" living in Sweden, it is about time!

10 comments:

  1. I loved this post, Sandra! It's so interesting to learn about where (who) we come from. I've learned a little about the Sami people in my Scandinavian Civilization class in college (I wanted to learn Swedish but didn't have time after French, German, and French, so learning about Scandinavia was as close as I got), and I've read a little more more recently, reading about the support and coming together of indigenous peoples all over the world in fighting for their land and sovereignty (I'm so inspired by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota!), but I definitely want to know more about the complicated history of the Sami.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this Sandra. It was really interesting. I live in Finland (was born here) and i have always loved lapland and sami people, even named my kid with a sami name. :D That face blindness is a strange thing. I´ve never heard of it before. Feels like it must be weird - but probably not for you cause you´ve always had it. Strange things in this world, in all of us in someway i´m sure. Anyways, thank you for this post again and have a happy day!

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  3. Was! I come from Northern Finland, even though I´ve now lived half of my life "in the south". I love Lapland and hope you´ll get to know the strengths of Sami culture as grown-up!

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  4. Wow, thanks for sharing this, Sandra!
    My own heritage is pretty boring, but I know the feeling of not fitting in, I guess... :)

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  5. Great post, Sandra! So nice to "get to know" you a little better. Thanks for sharing!

    All the best,
    Ana.

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  6. I didn't quite understand what Walloon is? Such a beautiful word - Walloon! I'm glad you found a home in Berlin. I was also there for a few years but found the 'othering, us and them' in Europe generally pretty intense as I'm from a migrant country and am not white. I had to take a break from the stares, the police and the neo nazis but I still love Berlin :-)

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  7. Dear Sandra, how nice and interesting this post. You are so open and authentic. I hope that you are exactly
    where you need to be, right now. By all means, I know I am. So I hope the same for you. Love, Lotte

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  8. Only just chanced upon your blog and am really happy about it. What a beautiful post, thanks for sharing. It can be so interesting to look at where we come from and how that has influenced who we are today. Usually so much more than what we like to believe.

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  9. Thank you for this post and all the personal insights you've shared lately!

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  10. This post struck a chord with me- I'm an American and my father's mother was Sami. That means next to nothing to most Americans so I had never experienced any of the bigotry Sami people face.Then, one year at a summer camp, one of the other kids (he was Finnish) came up to me, immediately asked if I was Sami, and then started saying ugly racist stuff. Definitely motivated me to learn more about that part of my heritage and to be proud of it.

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