The disappearance of the sacred Swedish Sami drum and the protection of Sami cultural heritage: Research into Sámi History and Cultural Heritage

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One of the last frontiers of the pre-Christian Sámi religion and cosmology from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries can be found recorded as embedded systems of knowledge on a range of noaidi-shaman drums kept in museums across Europe. Missionaries and clergymen as well as explorers who sought interest in the magical powers of the Sámi noaidi collected these artefacts during witchcraft trials and persecutions throughout Sápmi, the Sámi homeland areas. Insomuch as the drums being taken away from their owners and shipped from their homelands to other countries, their safeguarding, security and preservation as ancient sources of knowledge in museums is seldom discussed. As a consequence, the investigation presented here is a case study concerning the disappearance of a Sámi noaidi drum sent to a museum in France that has its origins in Swedish Sápmi, which I was informed about in 2017 prior to a visit to Paris for a seminar concerning the Sámi and their culture in Finland. The loss of the drum has only recently become known, and raises a series of important questions concerning responsibilities museums have with regard to the protection of property belonging to the Sámi as well as the repatriation and return of cultural heritage with regard to historical artefacts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolar record : a journal of Arctic and Antarctic research
Issue number4
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)255-266
Early online date21 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed