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Siida’s book “Ealli biras – Elävä ympäristö” chosen as 2014 Local Heritage Book

Oct 04, 2014 10:20 AM

The book Ealli biras – Elävä ympäristö (“Ealli Biras – The Living Environment”) by Päivi Magga and Eija Ojanlatva has been chosen as the Local Heritage Book of the Year. The winner was announced at the Turku International Book Fair on 4 October 2014. The Local Heritage Book of the Year was chosen by the national broadcasting company YLE’s literary journalist Seppo Puttonen. According to Puttonen, the book is an outstanding work in the history of publishing literature on the national culture.

The Ealli biras book, a communal book made with great love, tells about the diverse cultural environments of the wide Sámi Area through photographs and texts. The book is a valuable information package that opens new perspectives to the concept of cultural environment, helping us to see the invisible environment, too. The work is of value for everyone: it helps its northern readers to love and appreciate their home region to a greater extent, while the readers from the south learn to understand the Sámi way of thinking – maybe even see the Sámi Area in a new light, as a region with a long history and many Sámi cultures.

According to the editors, the book is a declaration of love for their own home region and its people. The book also shows people from other areas that they, too, have invisible culture – not just buildings and fields; for example, they may have collapsed milk stands. And even if a milk stand is rotten or a barn aslant, it has a story that is important for an individual, the family, or the whole community.

Never before, in no book, has the Sámi cultural environment been dealt with as comprehensively as in the 2014 Local Heritage Book. The work looks at the different aspects of Sámi cultural environment, covering the whole Sámi Area of Finland. Abounding in photographs, the book is both visual and illustrative.

The work is based on the view that the Sámi cultural environment is a whole consisting of both a visible and an invisible environment. Thus, the Sámi cultural environment is a distinctive combination of the natural landscape and the environment created by people. As it is often difficult for non-Sámi to see and interpret marks left by Sámi culture, the Sámi Area has mostly been considered as a natural landscape and a wilderness – not as a cultural environment. The work is built on the concept of Sámi cultural environment, which is comprised of the archaeological cultural heritage, the built environment, traditional knowledge, and the cultural landscape. The interpretation of the landscape through and with the help of traditional knowledge gives rise to the meanings that change a natural landscape into a cultural landscape.

The work “Ealli biras – The Living Environment. A Sámi Cultural Environment Programme” has been created in the project Ealli biras – The Living Environment run by the Sámi Museum Siida. The book was published in the publication series of the Sámi Museum Foundation in November 2013. It has been edited by Päivi Magga and Eija Ojanlatva from the Sámi Cultural Environment Unit of the Sámi Museum. Magga received the Environment Award of the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Regional Fund of Lapland in 2012. Ojanlatva has worked for a long time in the Sámi area, specialising in the archaeology of the region.

The awarded book is connected with the Ealli biras – The Living Environment exhibition, which is available for the public at Siida until 12 October 2014. The publication and the exhibition are a result of cooperation between the Sámi Museum’s project Ealli biras – The Living Environment and the pilot project The Sámi Cultural Environment Unit, another project run by the Sámi Museum. The Ealli biras project was financed by the European Regional Development Fund ERDF and the Regional Council of Lapland, while the Cultural Environment Unit project was funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. The projects helped to found the Cultural Environment Unit of the Sámi Museum, and, at present, the objective is to create a permanent basis for the unit.

Sámi museum, Siida, Inarintie 46, FI-99870 Inari, tel. +358 (0)400 898 212, siida@samimuseum.fi, www.siida.fi

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