Seitas,Sacred Places of the Sámi.pdf | Sami People | Archaeology

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  Digilehti Arkisto In English Kuukausiliite Mobiili Radio Helsinki Musiikkilataamo Mediatiedot Älypää Oikotie print this   HELSINGIN SANOMAT   INTERNATIONAL EDITION - HOME   You arrived here at 00:15 Helsinki time Thursday 15.7.2010 HOMEARCHIVEABOUTSUOMEKSI -IN FINNISH Seitas , sacred places of the indigenous Sámipeople, have become subjects of renewedinterest  Archaeologists excavate bones of sacrificial animalsfrom the vicinity of sites; the Ukonkivi seita has beennominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site By Jussi Konttinen inInari, Finnish Lapland   The low rays of thesun caress the roughsurface of a strange stonearrangement on the shoreof Inari Lake in Sápmi, or Finnish Lapland.In the shallow water sits a boulder, on top of which rests the Päällyskivi  (“Top Stone”), the shapeof which resembles thehead of an elk. The topstone is supported bythree smaller stones.“Everything suggests that this is a seita , says InariSámi seita expert Ilmari Mattus , while observing theconstruction.“An old tale that even embraces Christianitysupports the notion. According to the tale Päivän Olavi(Olavi of the Day), a famous seita destroyer, wouldhave snatched the rock here.”  Seitas, or the old sacred places of the Sámi people ,have become the subject of renewed interest. Thename varies, depending on the local Sámi dialect, andthe places are also known as sieidis or  Storjunkare .The Academy of Finland is funding a four-year research project, in connection with which six seitashave already been examined. The archaeologists fromthe University of Oulu have performed small-scaleexcavations in the vicinity of the seitas.  The studies   have already produced some results.“Based on radiocarbon dating, the oldest findingshave been dated back to the 12th century”, saysarchaeologist Tiina Äikäs .Next to most of the examined sacred places thebones of animals, such as reindeer, goats, sheep, or various types of bird and fish species have beenlocated. 15.6.2010 - THIS WEEK Bereft of political power, Sweden’s royalsrule through visibilityBazaramba’s road to judgement  Seitas , sacred places of the indigenousSámi people, have become subjects of renewed interest Skills of cadaver dogs tested by policeRuka ski resort’s summer piste survivessoaring temperatures and midnight sunGoodbye, nuclear bombCOMMENTARY: International Jean SibeliusConductors’ Competition badly needswinnersImmigrants are taking lead roles in newFinnish children’s booksMore Finnish companies attracted by India Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Home of 37/14/10 5:18 PM  Animal offerings were presented to seitas in hopesfor better luck with fishing or hunting. Sometimes suchproceedings included brushing the stone with blood or fat.This summer season the excavations will continuein Termisvaara in the far northern municipality of Enontekiö. Divers will start exploring the seitassurrounded by water.Most known seitas are unusually shaped stones. Atone time Christian priests destroyed seitas, but theindigenous Sámi people themselves are also known tohave taken them apart, if they have not beenpropitious.  Behind   Inari Lake’s   Päällyskivi  seita rises theUkonsaari Island, or Äijih in Sámi, the holiest of theholy places for the Inari Sámi people, The name refersto the highest-ranked of the gods.A previously unknown seita was discovered onUkonsaari when the Oulu archaeologists combedthrough it in 2007.“It is a stone with a face resembling that of anangry animal. From a nearby hole more than 400bones were discovered, many of which had beenburned. The oldest of them according to dating was thehumerus of a swan”, explains Ilmari Mattus.Another known Äijih is located on Inari Lake closer to the village of Inari itself. It is a peculiarly shaped highisland, where there is a sacrificial cave.Even though the island was already examined inthe 19th century, there, too, new discoveries have beenmade in connection with the recent year’s excavations.The island has been put forward as a possibleUNESCO World Heritage Site.  But how do   the present Sámi people view their seitas?Are the old sacrificial sites perchance still in usetoday?“Nobody would admit that they worship naturegods. But I do believe such practices still exist”, saysIlmari Mattus.  In Finland, around 50 seitas have been registered ashistoric relics, but in reality there are many more.Some of the sacred places are known only tolocals, who do not wish to tell their precisewhereabouts.“A few wooden seitas, so-called keropää seitas,also still exist. I cannot reveal where they are, for Ihave been told about them in confidence”, saysarchaeologist Eija Ojanlatva .“This is a typical problem a researcher can run into. An archaeologist should strictly speaking inform theNational Board of Antiquities of his or her findings.”  Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Home of 37/14/10 5:18 PM  In the ongoing projects only seitas that are publiclyknown have been studied. The bones that have beencollected for closer analysis will be returned later.In the future the seita studies may be broadened insuch a way that sacrificial places are sought based onhints from place-names.Some of the Sámi people take a reserved stand onthe studies.  One should   ask what the benefit of this study is.The Sámi community should first hold an internaldialogue on the subject. When information is enteredinto a registry by the National Board of Antiquities thisspeaks volumes of how the situation is not under thecontrol of the Sámi people”, says former chairman of the Sami Council Pauliina Feodoroff  .Feodoroff’s personal opinion is that the sacredportion of what is considered cultural heritage shouldbe off-limits to outsiders.  Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 13.6.2010 Links: Sámi Shamanism - Sieidis (Wikipedia) JUSSI KONTTINEN / Helsingin Sanomat Back to Top ^ Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Home of 37/14/10 5:18 PM
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