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ACCI flows from the knowledge that Cree culture must be captured, maintained, shared, celebrated, and practiced. Cree Elders have spoken of the need for a central place for the protection of the way, and have developed a vision for Aanischaaukamikw over several decades.

Nov 4, 2015

A long way from home! - Young Samí Reindeer Herders visit Eeyou Istchee

“How on earth did you end up here in Ouje-Bougoumou, of all places?” I asked Niila Inga, one of the leaders of the 29 Samí youth delegation. The question had been on my mind all morning. Niila and I were sitting in the Elder’s Gathering Space, taking a bit of a rest during a very full afternoon visit at Aaanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute on October 7, 2015. Niila’s response - they were looking to connect with the people of Eeyou Istchee, in particular the youth – they had come looking for guidance and expertise because the Cree have been successful in negotiating a settlement for future generations.
This youth delegation, representing each Sápmi region in Sweden, travelled over 5,000 kilometres to come and meet the people of Eeyou Istchee, to share their culture and to learn from the people here. For over a year they researched the history of the Eastern James Bay Cree, contacted and coordinated with the governments of Waswanipi and Ouje-Bougoumou, and raised funds to cover the costs of their flight, transportation, food and lodging.

Niila and the rest of the youth delegation are not just ordinary young people from Sápmi, Sweden, they are reindeer herders. This youth delegation is but one of many young Samí trying to preserve and continue the Traditional ways of the Samí people, as young reindeer herders they are part of a long tradition in their territory.
We were honoured to have them visit us on Wednesday October 7, 2015, part of a two day visit in Ouje-Bougoumou. The delegation was greeted by Ron Simard, Ouje-Bougoumou Tourism Officer, in the Billy Diamond Hall.

The group enjoyed a guided tour of the Institute including our beautiful Exhibit Hall. Harold Bosum gave a Tamarack Decoy making demonstration that generated a lot of interest, questions and queries from the delegation. At the end of the demonstration Harold gifted the youth delegation with the decoy that he made during their visit.  


Lloyd Cheechoo presented gifts to the Samí youth on behalf of the Cree Native Arts and Crafts Association (CNACA).

Our young guests also had the opportunity to meet with one of the Cree Nation Government’s archaeologists, Dario Izaguirre, and learn about the role that archaelogy has played in Eeyou Istchee as evidence in Land Claims, and also try their hand at flint knapping. Dario is somewhat of an “artiste” in flint knapping fashioning of projectiles and arrow tips.

 The Samí (Lapp) people have inhabited the northern portions of Scandinavia, Finland and eastward over the Russian Kola Peninsula since ancient times. Archaeological finds suggest that the Samí people have lived in the Arctic region for thousands of years. Russia, Finland, Norway and Sweden claim territories ill what is now regarded as Sápmi (Lapland).
The Samí were originally nomads, living in tents during the summer and more sturdy peat huts during the colder seasons.The Samí based their livelihood mainly on hunting and fishing; they often bartered the products from such animals as reindeer, moose and beaver with a heavy reliance and connection between the humans and the animals on the land.   

The Samí today maintain their rich culture and long-established traditions, but are as much part of modern society as any other person in Sweden. They live in modern housing and only use tents as very temporary accommodations during reindeer migrations if they don’t already own cottages in the mountains and forests. http://samenland.nl/lap_sami_si.html

Add chttp://skandihome.com/skandiblog/uncategorized/sami-culture-customs/aption



Samí herders call their work boazovázzi, which translates as "reindeer walker," and that's exactly what herders once did, following the fast-paced animals on foot or wooden skis as they sought out the best grazing grounds over hundreds of miles of terrain. Times have changed. Herders are now assigned to specific parcels of the reindeer's traditional grazing territories at designated times of the year. To make the lifestyle workable, herders use all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles to maintain hundreds of miles of fences between territories and move large herds in accordance with land-use regulations. Today, only ten per cent of Swedish Samí earn a living from the reindeer industry, and many combine their family businesses with tourism, fishing, crafts and other trades. ttp://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/11/sami-reindeer-herders/benko-text 
On their final night in Ouje-Bougoumou the young Samí reindeer herders treated the community to an evening performance of traditional songs, presentations on cultural practices and traditional clothing, as well as a beautiful video of the land and the way of life of the Samí.

Gift presented to Elder Lawrence Shecapio on behalf of the Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nation - Samí Evening Performance and Presentation- (Capissisit Lodge, Thursday October 8, 2015/ Photo credit: Kelly Pineault )
We were sad to say good-bye, but hope that this is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue and a lasting relationship between the people of Eeyou Istchee and the people of Sàpmi.

Until we meet again,

Kelly Pineault
Coordinator of Education