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New Users and Changing Traditions—(Re)Defining Sami Offering Sites

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Tiina Äikäs*
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, University of Oulu, Finland
Marte Spangen*
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden

Abstract

Sami are indigenous people of Northern Fennoscandia. Some Sami offering sites have been used for over a thousand years. During this time, the offering traditions have changed and various people have started using the places based on different motivations. Present day archaeological finds give evidence of both continuing traditions and new meanings attached to these sites, as well as to sites that were probably not originally used for rituals in the Sami ethnic religion. In some cases, the authenticity of the place seems to lie in the stories and current beliefs more than in a historical continuity or any specifically sacred aspects of the topography or nature it is situated in. Today's new users include, for example, local (Sami) people, tourists, and neo-pagans. This paper discusses what informs these users, what identifies certain locations as offering sites, and what current users believe their relationship to these places should be. What roles do scholarly traditions, heritage tourism, and internal culture have in (re)defining Sami offering sites and similarly what roles do ‘appropriate’ rituals have in ascribing meaning to particular places? How do we mediate wishes for multivocality with our professional opinions when it comes to defining sacredness?

Les Samis sont un people du nord de la Fennoscandie. Certains de leurs sites d'offrandes ont été utilisés pendant plus d'un millénaire. Les traditions d'offrandes ont évolué au cours des temps et certaines communautés ont commencé à utiliser ces lieux pour des motifs divers. Le matériel archéologique actuel indique d'une part que les traditions ont continué à être respectées et d'autre part que ces lieux ont acquis de nouvelles significations, rattachées tout aussi bien à ces sites qu’à d'autres sites qui n'avaient probablement pas été utilisé dans les rituels religieux des Samis. Dans certains cas l'authenticité des lieux semble être davantage liée à de récits et à des croyances actuelles qu’à une continuité historique ou à d'autres aspects expressément sacrés de la topographie ou de l'environnement. De nos jours les usagers de ces lieux comprennent, entre autres, des Samis indigènes, des touristes, et des néo-païens. Dans cet article nous examinons les éléments qui informent ces usagers, comment ces derniers identifient ces sites comme lieux d'offrandes et quels rapports ils entretiennent avec eux. Quels sont les rôles que jouent les traditions scientifiques, le tourisme lié au patrimoine et la culture indigène dans la (re)définition des lieux d'offrandes Samis et quelle est la place qu'occupent les rituels « opportuns » dans l'attribution d'un sens à certains endroitsComment pouvons-nous concilier un désir de donner voix à la multivocalité avec nos opinions professionnelles quand il s'agit de définir le sacré ? Translation by Madeleine Hummler.

Die Samen (oder Sámi) sind ein indigenes Volk im Norden von Fennoskandinavien. Einige samische Gabenstätten wurden über mehr als eintausend Jahre lang benutzt. Während dieser Zeit haben sich die Gabensitten verändert und verschiedene Gruppen haben begonnen, diese Orte aufzusuchen, und dies aus verschiedenen Gründen. Gegenwärtige archäologische Befunde zeigen, dass alte Traditionen weiterleben aber auch dass, neue Bedeutungen diesen Stätten und anderen Plätzen, die nicht zu den ursprünglichen Ritualen der Samen gehörten, zugewiesen werden. In einigen Fällen beruht die Echtheit dieser Stätten scheinbar eher auf Erzählungen und gegenwärtiger Glauben als auf eine historische Kontinuität oder auf eine spezifische Eigenschaft der Landschaft oder Umwelt, in welcher die Stätte liegt. Unter den heutigen Benutzern befinden sich, u.a. einheimische Samen, Touristen und Neuheiden. Unser Artikel untersucht, was diese Benutzer informiert, wie gewisse Stätten als Gabenstätten bestimmt werden und wie sich die Benutzer in Zusammenhang mit diesen Orten verhalten. Was für eine Rolle können die wissenschaftliche Tradition, der Kulturerbe-Tourismus und die einheimische Kultur in der (Neu)Definierung der Gabenstätten der Samen spielen, und was für eine Rolle können „angemessene’ Rituale bei der Bedeutungszuschreibung einer gewissen Stätte haben? Wie können wir Multivokalität mit unseren beruflichen Auffassungen versöhnen, wenn es sich dabei um die Bestimmung der Heiligkeit handelt? Translation by Madeleine Hummler.

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Copyright © 2015 the European Association of Archaeologists 

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