Sami Women at Standing Rock
It was one of those moments when things converge in odd, but significant, ways.
In the encampment where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies from around the world have gathered to block construction of an oil pipeline across the Missouri River upstream from their water supply, a picture of Sámi musicians from the Arctic regions of Norway and Sweden and members of the Lumbee Tribe from North Carolina. They are leading a group in a joik [pron. "yoyck"], a traditional song, in honor of the earth.
The Lumbee people are best known, at least to me, for busting up a Ku Klux Klan rally in eastern North Carolina in 1958. They may be descended from Sir Walter Raleigh's "lost colony" on Roanoke Island.
So I sat up and took notice when I noticed a YouTube video that showed the Sámi, in their distinctive national costume, leading a song under a Lumbee Indian banner. It was posted Oct. 9 to the UTISETA YouTube channel (which has only the one video on it), with this caption:
Sofia Jannok, Inger Biret Kvernmo Gaup. and Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska (members of the Sami tribe) share a joik [pron. "yoyck"] song for Mother Earth during a traditional gifting ceremony at Standing Rock.
This was in solidarity with the Native Americans fighting against the creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their lands.
To learn more and help support the movement, please visit: http://sacredstonecamp.org/.
A bit of background
At the beginning of October, the Sami musicians visited the "water protecters" who have flocked to the Standing Rock campground from all over the world in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight to stop the pipeline. The Sámi people (formerly called "Lapps," which like many terms used for indigenous peoples, was a insult coined by whites) are the semi-nomadic indigenous people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and parts of Russia. They are no strangers to fighting over water rights, and they brought a Sámi flag to fly among the hundreds of other tribal flags at Standing Rock.
A reporter for Indian Country Today put it in a context of indigenous peoples' rights worldwide:
When opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline galvanized the support of hundreds of U.S. tribes, it became an unprecedented show of Indian country unity and resolve.
Now, it’s a global indigenous movement.
Members of tribal communities from around the world have joined in activism led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. A Sami group from Norway was the latest to arrive on Friday. This resistance campaign, many say, has emerged as part of a greater global crisis—a united struggle in which indigenous lands, resources, and people are perpetually threatened by corporations and governments often using military force. Integral to this shared narrative is the routine ignoring of treaties.
In their continued struggle, the Lakota Sioux are advancing an Indigenous agenda that calls for governments to acknowledge the unique and inherent rights of First Peoples.
While Indigenous Peoples reflect only about 5 percent of the world’s population, they represent roughly 15 percent of the global poor. With the exception of majority populations in places like Bolivia and Guatemala, Indigenous Peoples are typically the minority in their respective countries.
But they have land. And their tribal territories are among the healthiest ecosystems on the planet—and under constant threat from mining, logging, and dam and oil development. ...
So they have plenty in common with the Standing Rock water protectors.
Source: Jenni Monet. "Standing Rock Joins the World’s Indigenous Fighting for Land and Life." Indian Country Today Oct. 7, 2016. http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/10/07/standing-rock-joins-worlds-indigenous-fighting-land-and-life-166001.
According to Wikipedia, Brita Maret "Sofia" Jannok (born September 15, 1982) is a Swedish-Sami artist, singer, songwriter and radio host. Several times, she has publicly taken a stance in social media against the establishment of mines on land used by Sami reindeer herders. ... Her music is inspired from diverse musical influences, like folk, pop, jazz and yoik. She sings mostly in Northern Sami, but also sings and writes lyrics in Swedish and English as well. [She's on the left in the video, with the drum.]
According to her webpage, Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska "... is a Sámi joiker from the reindeer-herding community of Guovdageaidnu in Finnmark County, northern Norway. Born into a family of skillful joikers, she is best known for her work with Adjágas, the acclaimed Sámi band who blend joik with various contemporary influences." She records with Sylvia Cloutier, an Inuit throat singer from Nunavut in Quebec, Canada.
From Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska and Sylvia Cloutier's website: "The Sámi people are a transnational minority living in “Sápmi”, an area of land stretching across the borders of northern Scandinavia, Finland, and throughout the Kola Peninsula of north-western Russia. Joik (also spelt yoik or jojk) is the Sámi’s characteristic vocal tradition, consisting (as with some forms of Native American chant) of specific vocal sounds, or “vocables”; syllables such as “yo”, “lo”, and “la”. These sounds have traditionally operated as ‘units of meaning’, and have been used to invoke a person, animal, place, or experience."
Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina
According to Wikipedia (that handy-dandy source of all human knowledge), "The Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina is a state recognized tribe of approximately 55,000 enrolled members, most of them living in Robeson and the adjacent counties in southeastern North Carolina. The Lumbee Tribe was recognized by the US Congress in 1956 but was not given access to federal funds set aside for Indian tribes. According to the 2000 US Census report, the population of the town of Pembroke, North Carolina, is 89% Lumbee Indian and that of the county is nearly 40% Lumbee."
Its moment in history, when it chased the Ku Klux Klan out of its community, went down like this:
Klan Grand Dragon James W. "Catfish" Cole. Cole began a campaign of harassment against the Lumbee, claiming they were "mongrels and half-breeds" whose "race mixing" threatened to upset the established order of segregated Jim Crow South. After giving a series of speeches denouncing the "loose morals" of Lumbee women, Cole burned a cross in the front yard of a Lumbee woman in St. Pauls, North Carolina, as a "warning" against "race mixing." Emboldened, Cole called for a Klan rally on January 18, 1958, near the town of Maxton. The Lumbee, led by recent veterans of the Second World War, decided to disrupt the rally.
The "Battle of Hayes Pond", also known as "the Klan Rout", made national news. Although Cole had predicted over 5,000 Klansmen would show up for the rally, less than 100 and possibly as few as three dozen attended. Approximately 500 Lumbee, armed with guns and sticks, gathered in a nearby swamp, and when they realized they possessed an overwhelming numerical advantage, attacked the Klansmen. The Lumbee encircled the Klansmen, opening gunfire and wounding four Klansmen in the first volley, none seriously. The remaining Klansmen panicked and fled. Cole was found in the swamps, arrested and tried for inciting a riot. The Lumbee celebrated the victory by burning Klan regalia and dancing around the open flames.
The Battle of Hayes Pond, which marked the end of Klan activity in Robeson County, is celebrated as a Lumbee holiday.