Man i nordsamisk dräkt står i vintrigt landskap.

Testimony from the Nomadic School

Nils-Henrik Sikku testifies from the nomadic school.

More than a hundred years have passed since a boarding school for
nomads was set up. A school exclusively for children who lived nomadic
lives. One of them was Nils-Henrik Sikku. His journey began at the age of
seven ...

Tears of yearning not allowed

My young friend, I want to ask you something: How are you feeling today? Do you see the light of hope in the dawn? Or does the path of 15 tears still await you? The path you’ve followed so many times, the arduous one full of terrible memories. Forbidden to shed tears of longing, forbidden to seek solace in the night. My young friend. Would it be better if you had known the truth about an enforced journey with no end? Deprived of the desire to be yourself. Judged a useless nomad of little worth.

Our way of life had no value

You were sent to another country with an emotionally cold climate. How do you
see it all today, my friend? We had to stay in the forests and the mountains, far from everyone else. That was to be our future, always. Owning your own house and a piece of land was forbidden. Our way of life was worth nothing. We learned to write and speak in a foreign language. To read the Bible, sing hymns, recite the details of kings’ plundering raids, by heart.

Beaten to our senses at boarding school

We were locked up in a boarding school, where we were to have sense pounded in to us. Instead of the useful knowledge that should have been our inheritance, we were fed alienation. We were corralled, crushed, silenced. Sami land was to be obliterated with threats and God’s blessing. Our activities and our existence belonged only to the wilderness. We were no longer Sami, just Lapps and nomads. Soon we would be gone for good. All that nature had provided us with could be seized.

Yet we never gave up. We stood firm against the icy methods of the oppressor. Yes, old friend. I can just make out the light of hope in the dawn! 

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