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Above the Arctic Circle


Fri, Dec 5th, 2003
Posted in Norwegian Ancestry

"We have nine months of winter and three months of poor skiing conditions"

Back in 1976, when I accepted the invitation to visit the Troms family, I had no idea they lived among the indigenous Sami people (formerly called Lapps) above the Arctic Circle of Norway. Speaking in Norwegian, I had visited only briefly with my new acquaintances, during a train ride from Sandefjord to Drammen, near Oslo, in southern Norway. Impulsively, I had said yes to their invite, without even asking where Troms was.

Meeting me at the Drammen train station was my best friend, Marit Waaler, whom I had met earlier that spring on the steps of the University of Minnesota. Back at her parents strawberry and tomato farm at Egge i Lier, I told them about my chat on the train and my upcoming plans to go to Troms, wherever that was. Marit and her sister, Bjrg, showed me the map and laughed as they said, Well then youll need a bigger backpack to get there. It was only with Marits and Bjrgs crash course on traveling alone in Norway and the Norwegian survival words taught to me by their father, Sigmund, that I reached Troms.

As the crow flies, its a distance of 1,089 miles from southern to northern Norway. Traveling by car, train, bus, ferry, and coastal steamer, I saw some of the most incredible scenery in the world on my way to Troms, the Paris of the North. I was in the Land of the Midnight Sun, as well as the Northern Lights. This was only a prelude of what lay ahead, when I ventured still farther north and then inland to Kautokeino, where during the winter months there are 2,500 Sami and 70,000 reindeer.

I was immersed in a unique culture based on the Samis close relationship with nature. Their lives had been shaped by the landscape of the Arctic Ocean, fjords, and tundra, a Sami word, where generations made their living from reindeer farming, fishing, hunting, and handicrafts. Located on the inland tundra of northern Norway, Kautokeino is the cultural capital of the Sami people and one of the most important reindeer districts.

Getting to Kautokeino

On August 9, 1976, with my new, bigger backpack, sleeping bag, and handful of maps, I set out on my scenic journey to the north, sightseeing along the way.

Crossing the Hallingskarvet Mountain, I traveled by train from Drammen to Voss (near Bergen). Riding the bus f .....
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Ancestral search leads to Telemark

Mon, Nov 3rd, 2003
Posted in Norwegian Ancestry

Sabotage, heavy water, and atom bomb are words one would normally not expect to encounter when merely trying to locate ancestral farms in Norway. Knowing only that the two farms were located in the area of Tinn i Telemark, my family and I set our cou ..... 
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Area communities ready for Syttende Mai

Mon, Nov 3rd, 2003
Posted in Norwegian Ancestry

In Norway, the 17th of May is a little like Americas 4th of July. Known as Syttende Mai, this is the day Norway ratified its constitution in 1814.

Syttende Mai is celebrated locally amongst Norwegian-American communities, and s ..... 
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The Great Flu Epidemic of 1918

Mon, Mar 17th, 2003
Posted in Norwegian Ancestry

I had a little bird,  its name was Enza.  I opened the window,  and in-flu-enza.

(Children skipped rope to this rhyme during the flu epidemic.)
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The Little Red Jacket

Fri, Dec 13th, 2002
Posted in Norwegian Ancestry

"At one time it was so bad that I thought the young would have to go naked. We had of course ration cards, but that was no help so long as there wasn't so much as a yard of material to find! So then came a call from the Creamery Station that new 'Ame ..... 
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Norway's national costume

Sun, Sep 29th, 2002
Posted in Norwegian Ancestry

Monday, May 13, 2002

The bunad, Norway's National Costume, will be worn by Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans this weekend to celebrate Syttende Mai (17th May). Just as America celebrates the 4th of July, Norway celebrates Constitutio ..... 
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Fri, Sep 27th, 2002
Posted in Norwegian Ancestry

Garness Church roots go back to farm in Norway

Mon, Dec 31st, 2001
Posted in Norwegian Ancestry

December 31, 2001

The familiar sounds I grew up with, the unloading of the horses, the snorting and pawing, and the cinching of the saddles were all heard that cold blustery day, January 14, 1996. However, someone very important to me ..... 
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