Understanding the Sami people and how they navigated by our Deputy Editor Kerstin Williams

Editor’s comments:

Please find this extract talking about the Sami, the ancient aborigine people of Northern Sweden, Finland etc.  We have sometimes called them Lapps see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_people

This extract comes from a book about the ancient lifestyle of these people and has been translated by our Deputy Editor Kerstin Williams who is working with us to understand the Sami people and how they navigated in the old days.  The benefit of talking to the ancient peoples is that they all navigated perfectly well without modern aids and we can talk to them and read what has been written.  If humans can navigate without aids and describe how they do it then we have some really powerful evidence to help us understand how animals navigate.

The Sami camp and migrate each year to and from the snow covered high Arctic with their reindeer.

This piece re-enforces the idea that animals can and do follow “ethereal trails” laid down by their piers and forbears.  The theory is that animals lay down “tracks” that can be followed by others.  See our link: An interview with an older Sami Olle.

Dowsers can track these trails and these can be found easily on the footpaths and especially the paths to old churches.  Sheep runs can be dowsed too.  Dowsers are useful because their art depends on the suppression of the conscious brain to let the subconscious (ancient animal) brain communicate with us for instance as a water diviner finds water.

We will deliver more on aborigine navigation as we discover more.

We are very keen to get more information on the navigation of ancient aborigine people anywhere in the world:  please, contribute if you can!

Richard Nissen
editor

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Yngve Ryd  –  Snӧ   (published 2001)

This book records conversations with the old Sami Johan Russa talking about traditional Sami life. Extracts from pages 114

‘Tjarvva’ and Reindeers
In the spring the Sami’s want ‘tjarvva’ (untouched hard really crusty snow) in order to move the reindeers on to the mountainous regions (fjällen). ‘Tjarvva’ in late spring is not dangerous to the reindeers. When the sun shines the snow turns into ‘siebla’ (thawing snow) and the reindeers can dig and graze. When there is ‘tjarvva’ the samis travel to where the reindeers are as early as 1 or 2 o’clock in the night, to keep an eye on them until the middle of the day when the ‘siebla’ returns and the reindeers can start digging again.

Extract from page 218
On many occasions when there are long periods of ‘tjarvva’ in the spring you have to let the reindeers roam freely and graze what they can find. When spring arrives the reindeers head west of their own accord and they do know their way. They follow the same route to the west as as they followed going east in the autumn. If they moved across Gábllá in the autumn they return and cross the Gábllá in the spring without being showed the the way. This does not work today when the reindeers are moved by a lorry in the autumn. In the spring they also head west to the mountains, but they are more spread out and don’t always arrive in the right place. You can’t be sure they will return to the exact place where they spent the previous autumn.

‘One winter we spent around Edefors. In the spring when it was time to move towards the mountains a ‘härk’ (male reindeer) disappeared. It had a bell and a few other reindeers also vanished. We moved to Gábllá where we had been in the autumn. After three weeks the ‘härken’ arrived and so did the other lost reindeers. The distance from Edefors to Gábllá is maybe 200km.

An autumn/winter we arrived with the reindeer herd at the road between Vuolleriebrne and  Gåjkul. Having followed the road for a while we turned off and continued eastward into the forest and stayed there during the winter. In the spring we moved west again and ended up on the same road. There we lost the reindeers who started running along the road. This was before we had scooters. We skied behind them but couldn’t keep up. We thought they would probably run along the road all the way to Vuolleriebme. Suddenly they jumped off the road into the forest .  They turned exactly in the same place as where we had hit the road in the autumn! At the time there was thin snow and then it snowed all winter. There were no tracks which could have helped the reindeers find their way. They remembered where they had come out of the forest onto the road and this is where they turned into the forest several months later.’

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