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Traditional Sami costume

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Áilluhas yoiking
Áilluhas in one of his final performances. Photo: John Erling Utsi.
Nils Aslak Valkeapää - a Sami artist in multiple genres

For a long time, Nils Aslak Valkeapää was the most prominent figure in Sami culture. For most of his life he appeared on the stage, started associations for Sami musicians, artists and authors, released collections of poems and pictures as well as historical and musical works, and gave concerts and lectures around the world. He died in 2001 at the age of 58, after another long journey around the globe.

Nils Aslak, or Áilluhas as he was known, was born into a family of reindeer herders. But as he was unable to take the life of a reindeer, he chose to study rather than following the traditional route. After training as a teacher, however, his life took a different path to the one he had imagined. The 1960s were characterised by a Sami awakening. From concealing and being ashamed of their origins, young Sami in particular began openly to display their awareness and pride of being Sami. The cultural struggle took many forms, and Áilluhas played a central role in this. The yoik, which had previously stayed in the background, was brought onto the stage and into the media.

Modern yoik
In 1968 he released his first record, Jojkuja, which comprised modern Sami yoik based on the traditional style. In his pamphlet Hilsen fra Sameland (Greetings from Samiland), Áilluhas strongly attacked the powers that be and the national states that had oppressed the Sami people for such a long time. His art, like his home, had no limits. In pictures, music and words, he promoted the Sami heritage in new forms and media. The symbolism, the colours and the content found expression in forms governed by the art itself. In numerous concerts in Sápmi and around the world, he promoted yoik and poetry, often in the form of multimedia concerts. His home contained countless photographs, paintings and sculptures.

Áilluhas was incredibly productive over several decades. In addition to releasing books and CDs at regular intervals, he also toured as a musician, artist and lecturer. For young Sami he was not only a role model, but also the person who encouraged and helped Sami artists and performers. In 1991 he was awarded the Nordic Council's literary prize for his book Beaivi Áhcázan (The Sun, My Father). The book is an epic of the Sami people's history. The pictures and poetry together form the foundation for a pilgrimage from the first rock carvings to modern-day Sápmi. The work can be read both as an inner journey through time and space in Sápmi, and as a poetic reflection of the Sami people, illustrated with drawings and photographs.

Award-winning bird concert
In 1993, Áilluhas won Prix Italia's radio prize for the symphony Goase dusse, a work in which the birds of Sápmi play the main role. Ever since he was a child, he had enjoyed a close and loving relationship with the birds around him. For most of his life he lived in Beahttet, on the Swedish-Finnish border. He lived there in a house with hardly any neighbours, and found peace and strength in his solitude. The countryside around him - the tundra, the river and the wide open spaces - was his real home. The animals and the birds were his closest neighbours. "Here I am never alone,'' he once said, "yet I often feel alone in Helsinki and Stockholm.''

Senast ändrad: 2006-05-30