While in Sápmi this summer, I worked as a research assistant to Dr. Krister Stoor, assistant professor of Sámi studies and joik musician, at the University of Umbeje, or Umeå. We agreed that I would help him with two conferences that he was involved with organizing, and at which he would be giving several presentations and workshops. The first was the International Congress on Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS). While I was originally slated to work as a volunteer at this event, my job description changed a bit once I got to Umbeje. The event photographer cancelled at the last minute, and so I volunteered to fill in as the photographer, being present at the morning plenary meetings and presentations, formal and informal gatherings, as many individual presentations as I could, and other key events for ICASS over the course of the five-day meeting. My job description changed further still when it came to light that I was the only native English speaker among the volunteers. We were quite the international group, mostly comprised of graduate students, and I was additionally among the very few who had studied Swedish language formally. Therefore, I also had the distinct honor of serving as an interpreter for a panel on Forest Sámi issues, translating the English presentations into Swedish.
The second conference found us traveling north to Árvidsjávvrie (or Arvidsjaur), for the Samiska kyrkodagar meeting. This event functioned both as a conference and a religious meeting, with services held in the mornings, conference presentations and panels throughout the day, and music concerts in the evenings. The overarching theme of the conference discussions approached the Sámi relationship to the church from several angles. Historically, this relationship is complicated, as the church had for centuries functioned as the primary institution of colonization in Sápmi. Unlike ICASS, which presented a number of indigenous concerns to the international scientific community, Samiska Kyrkodagar was a venue almost exclusively for Sámi scientists, artists, and theologians to talk about Sámi issues with other Sámi.
I will provide a more in-depth report of my activities and experiences soon, in the form of a presentation transcript which will be scheduled with SWEA-Denver in the near future. I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to SWEA-MAME for the generous scholarship which made this research trip possible.