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Roland and Edi Thorstensson Give Presentation About Sámi at Vesterheim


Tue, Oct 8th, 2013
Posted in All Arts & Culture

DECORAH, Iowa — Roland and Edi Thorstensson will present a multimedia program titled “In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun—Introducing the Sámi of the Nordic North” on Sunday, October 27, at 2:00 p.m. in the Amdal-Odland Heritage Center at Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center.

The presentation is offered in conjunction with the exhibition “The Sámi Reindeer People of Alaska,” on view at Vesterheim through November 10. Refreshments will be served and those who wish the view the exhibition after the presentation will receive free admission.

The Sámi are an indigenous people who, today, live mainly in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The Thorstenssons will speak about the Sámi and Sámi culture in a broad sense, but will focus on conditions, circumstances, and “realities” in Sámiland during the last 30 to 40 years. The presentation will also highlight manifestations of Sámi culture in literature, art, and music since “the awakening” in the 1960s and 1970s. “The presentation will be an opportunity to learn more about Sámi culture and history, as well as the lives of Sámi in more recent years,” explained Laurann Gilbertson, Vesterheim Chief Curator.

Roland Thorstensson, professor emeritus at Gustavus Adolphus College, taught regular courses on Sámi culture for over a decade. He has lived in northern Norway and Sweden and traveled extensively in Sápmi (Sámiland). Edi Thorstensson is retired as librarian and archivist at Gustavus Adolphus College. She has led tours to Scandinavia and Europe for Road Scholar.

During a yearlong stay in Tromsø, Norway, Roland and Edi translated Sámi prose and poetry into English for a book entitled “In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun.” Roland has also translated a Norwegian novel, “The Salt Bin,” which deals with the “Sámi awakening” of the 1960s and he has given many presentations on Sámi topics, including music.

Vesterheim’s exhibition, “The Sámi Reindeer People of Alaska,” tells the story of Sámi men and women who left Norway to teach reindeer husbandry to the Native Alaskans at the request of the U.S. Government. The exhibition and programming is sponsored by Owen and Naomi Bekkum.

Through 24,000 artifacts and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center in Decorah, Iowa, shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. This treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year. For more information on the museum’s exhibitions, classes, events, membership opportunities, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim’s website at vesterheim.org, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.

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