Elders & dialogue partner
Following the Sámi custom of learning from elders of the community, the selected artists for 'The Sámi Pavilion' benefited from the individual guidance of a chosen elder.
Karen Ellen Marie Siri Utsi
Karen Ellen Marie Siri Utsi, known in her community as Fimben Áillu, Hálden Ánná Gáren or Áilon Gájjá, is Máret Ánne Sara’s chosen Elder for ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ project. Utsi is a Northern Sámi woman who lives an abundant life as a reindeer owner and duojár. She was born at the river Mollešjohka in Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino, in a goahti/turf hut, into a life as a nomadic reindeer herder. As the only daughter and child to stay in the family, she was given the responsibility for the family's reindeer herd. Together with her parents and her own family she built up a healthy herd in the area from eastern parts of Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino, Finnmark, to Skárfvággi/Skardalen in Troms.
The reindeer herding lifestyle makes the basics for Utsi's seasonal based livelihood. She offers traditional food catering and reindeersledging for visitors, and for her traditional duodji (Sámi practise of aestetics and storytelling), from everyday items to items made for theatre plays and films. She has worked as a teacher in duodji and other traditional knowledges, and she has also been engaged in work with duodji organisations. With her acquired wisdom, good heart and cleverness she is one of our important knowledge holders in Sápmi.
Asta Mitkijá Balto
Asta Mitkijá Balto is Pauliina Feodoroff’s chosen Elder for ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ project. Balto is a Sámi Professor Emerita and freelancer, awarded an Honorary Doctorate by WINU (the International Indigenous University in 2018) for her lifelong work for Sámi and Indigenous education. Committed to combining aca- demic knowledge with knowledge rooted in traditional Sámi society, her books, articles and countless lectures she provides in Sámi content, perspectives and decol- onizing perspectives to teacher training, schools, kindergartens, administrations, amongst other institutions. The general lack of Sámi knowledge has also led her into counselling in health, admin- istrative, court, art, political, and church sectors, assisting them to build Sámi perspectives into their activities.
Balto was a rector, vice rector, lecturer and professor within a period of 20 years at The Sámi University of Applied Sciences and was also director of the Sámi Education Council under the Ministry of Education, researcher at the Nordic Sámi Institute and lecturer at Finnmark University College. Currently she chairs the board of the Sámi Cultural and Language Centre in Kárášjohka and serves on the boards of various cultural and educational institutions, while also working on her books and articles.
Ánde Somby is a Sámi juoigi, noaidi and Associate Professor of the Faculty of Law at the Arctic University of Norway. He is artist Anders Sunna’s chosen Elder for ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ project. Somby has been an active joiker since 1974. In 1985 he produced the LP record and MC cassette Ean Máššan with his father Aslak Somby (1913–2008) and mother Karen Kristine Porsanger Somby (1920–2017). In 1991 he produced the record Ravddas Ravdii with Inga Juuso. In 2000 he produced the record Deh and in 2003 Deh with his uncle Ivvár Niillas. Somby is one of very few Sámi with a Ph.D. in law (dr. juris). Somby’s Ph.D. thesis is titled Juss som retorikk and his project ‘Is the Legal Medium the Legal Message?’ (2009) attempted to apply Marshall McLuhan’s mantra of the medium being the message to jurisprudence.
Somby is also one of the cofounders of the Sámi publishing house and record label Dat (www.dat.net). Together with the band Boknakaran from Tromsø and the acapella group Rosynka from Petrozavodsk in Russia, Somby participated in the project ‘moya på Tvoja’ (1998–2002). From 2003 to 2007, Somby was a member of the group Vajas (Echo) and was the vocalist and joiker for the band. The polyphonic sound project Yoiking with the Winged Ones, initiated by Somby, was recorded and produced by Chris Watson and was released by Ash International as a vinyl record in January 2016. ‘Yoiking with the Winged Ones’ has also been presented as an art installation at Tromsø Kunstforening in 2016 and Sámi Dáiddaguovddáš / Sámi Center for Contemporary Art in 2019.