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Jakob Fellman

About The First Inhabitants of Lappland

Tr. Roland Thorstensson – 8/1/05

The infidels

in the dark land of the Sami

lacked many things in the old days.

Short of resources

and suffering from sluggishness

they gradually discovered that there are not enough resources

in one land to feed everyone. Much sees the eye.

They sought and discovered land.

Many tire while they are seeking.

There seem to be many inhabitants

in this cold land

who are not humans

since they don’t speak.

Still they look at them

and admire their ability to gather.

They made tools by various means.

How will we receive something from them for us?

How will we find ways to make a living?

Let us think of tools to make

and we will perhaps begin to receive

some of what the eye sees

when surveying the land.

Let us make some tools out of stone

with which to catch some of the animals

that exist in abundance.

On these winding paths

we must wander back to distant places

from where we came

where our brothers saw us leave,

from very far and not so far.

Great rivers held us back

as we were wandering

in search of land for our people.

Let us give our land a name!

The newfound land,

The land we discovered,

Sápmi be your name.

The land we discovered,

Sápmi you are!

Let us run after the wild reindeer in Sápmi;

they will provide us with food.

Let our arrows hit their marks,

let us have smiths to repair well

our guns,

let us get ready to leave,

Let us prepare dwellings of sod for us!

Let us uproot trees

and build dwellings

out of sod!

Grass will not be enough for us;

let us also make use of fire,

and take the eggs from the trees!

In our need we don’t object to any work,

or complain when our food is not cooked.

In different kinds of pots

the people of Sápmi prepared their food,

hollowing out stones

in the middle of their dwellings.

This poor people designed ways

to fry food in the ashes,

and prepared sustenance for their bodies

in strange ways.

The food once clean

was eaten unclean.

Nonetheless they had to eat what was meant

to be eaten.

There still were no pots, what did

they use for cooking?

A hollowed out stone the first inhabitants

of Sápmi used.

Generations who came after them laughed

when they found the [old] dwellings.

Stop giving us advice!

Who can listen to that?

Be in charge of your tasks yourselves,

Stop giving us advice!

We don’t want to follow it.

Later generations [had to] see

how their brothers had lived.

Hollowed-out stones had been pots

for them.

Later generations have smiled at

their old ancestors walking trails

and wondered how they could have been used.

But they had tried to live like human beings,

and left tracks at their old habitations

so that others might see how their [older] brothers lived.

Many have wondered about their ways of life,

how the earliest inhabitants of Sápmi

were able to hunt and gather with their strange tools.

What mysterious things

do descendants think they see

when they look at deserted dwelling places,

when they ponder the ways of life of the settlers

of the wilderness,

with their tools and gadgets made according to the demands of nature,

without any models,

without any previous learning.

They have not been full of insight

and they have not known what conscience means.

We who come after them know this for sure:

That people have been here before us,

for whom nature’s laws were their laws,

the animals’ food was food for them.

Finally they learned to hunt animals for [their own] food.

This song is not just sung for Sápmi and for the people

who from the beginning have trodden Sápmi

and thought of putting hay in their shoes.

Times changed eventually; the time of the magical drum arrived.


About Samiland’s Last Vagabonds (wanderers) at Tana River

There dwelling places are found,

in desolate woodland,

in a dark and gloomy land,

with a river named Porsse

that flowed to the great Tana,

dwelling places they took,

by the river also named Porsse.

Four months of the year they lived at this river.

There they were found, hiding, by some

men of sound mind who set out to look for

these wretched wanderers,

In the chilly fall, men set out, chosen

for their great courage.

Many enough of them were found in Sápmi

that they were victorious.

They marched toward those who were hiding,

during the cold and dark months and defeated them.

It is not known how they defeated them,

But it’s common knowledge that they were victories

in battle against those who live on Lintuvaara,

after whom names still exist in Sápmi

Between these two rivers, both by the name of Porsse

we, too, can see the high mountain.


Songs tell us

that people have come from the land in the west,

without having been encouraged,

without having been commanded to do so,

to the outer reaches of their rulers’ land.

Among them were both good and bad people,

and that was of no concern.

They have traveled,

relying on their witless whims.

Without anyone’s permission

have they taken possession of

whatever they have found of value,

in order to come to the talked-about land,

the rich land in which, the old tales said,

there was more game to hunt than in the land in the west.

Many a brother listened to the stanger’s story,

when he told us in the wilderness

what he had discovered in his tattered clothes:

“From this country I have traveled,

away from starvation,

Much have I seen and heard,

without being able to experience it,

Want forced me to travel;

When I could fend for myself,

I set out to places where bothers were supposed to live,

where people were of greater means.

I set out to go to them

and seek my livelihood there,

I have in mind to return there

–where with my own eyes many [?] I have seen—

if I get companions to go with me there

without crime (or “utan avbrott” without delay)

to the cold land that was discovered,

where all the forests are deserted,

and no sounds of humans can be heard

from any direction.”

The brothers of the country in the west left,

without anyone’s permission,

They didn’t wait for anyone to forbid them, nor to command them to go or stay.

Kings had been informed,

but they followed their own mind

and came to the cold country.

Many animals they brought with them,

some of whom to give them food, 

[They came to settle] where the old people had had their home since ancient times.

They were not afraid to go into wilderness

Stories tell us that they went year after year

– many did not join their company –

to settle in Sápmi.

Rumors spread that there were people in Sápmi;

In secret they came to see those whom the rumors mentioned,

people with their homes in the wilderness,

called Lappdogs by the people of the west.

After they settled at one place,

they went onward, with abandon,

without permission from any leader,

to destroy the people of Sápmi,

after they had heard of those who live in the wilderness,

heard of the country so rich in game.

They had not heard of any one there

who owned a gun

or a spear.

They had brought swords,

secretly they had come to the wilderness,

to the land of the Sami,

to harm those who live on that land,

who had gathered for themselves

both reindeer and other cattle,

and found suitable places where to live,

places that were in no need of


living their free lives in nature,

The Lappdogs have not escaped to find

places to live.

Those who did get away by [?] in spite of it all

have had their lives ended,

each and every one.

There are no tales about wars,

but through the trickery known to the men from the west

have these mean wanderers taken their lives,

in one place in one way,

in another place, in another way,

in a third place, in a third way.

Sometimes they forced them over a cliff,

Sometimes they hunted them into a waterfall,

Sometimes they murdered them by guns,

Sometimes they made them freeze to death.

Later we heard about our brothers

that they were still living,

still walking around.

Among some of the discovered people

there are still tales

of dangerous wanderers.

People have found ugly, dried-up bones of those

who sought protection

near rocks.

When people at long last have come out of their hiding places

and gone out to listen from high hills,

and look at the ground,

then a little boy laughed

when he saw the bold spear

in a stone-pit.

His hut they have not found

when they were aiming to destroy it,

(but) when they continued their journey across the land,

they heard a sound from the earth’s interior

(one of them there) forced his spear into the ground, upright as a pole, and returned to his brothers:

“Come to see where my spear is.

The spear means a lot where it is.

Let us go to where I left the spear

for my men to see

what the end will be.”

He came to the area where he left the spear.

But couldn’t even find the place where the spear was.

Finally those who were searching

grabbed their man:

“If you are lying to us you will find out

what we will do to you.”

They caught their man, left him there

while they themselves went away.

Nightfall came and they set up camp.

They were struck by fear

in the midst of the thick wilderness of Sápmi,

doorposts were falling from the tree (?).

They hurried away from the place,

Frozen to death, one after the other was found at different places

Then, gradually, there was peace.

The wretched people eagerly began to

visit the places of the ugly wanderers,

checked the ground where they were, * pulled them up from the ground

began to look for food for themselves,

no more did they fear for their lives,

found mates for themselves,

began to hunt with their bows (wooden guns)

began to find food,

and found spears in the woods

and also found their brothers there,

who weren’t afraid for their companions any longer

but began to share their lives’ stories,

as friend to friend,

what they had seen,

and what they had found.

They had found things that were good

And things that were bad,

they had even found what they believed

they would never find:

here they could live their lives in nature.

When they came to hear news from faraway places

they learned that real people were on the unknown land,

where they had thought no one was

Gradually the rumor spread to distant places,

where there were said to be kings

who had sent out scouts

to the people of the woodlands.

They have come as real people,

on their leader’s command,

to administer justice to the people [of?] the woods.

Finally an edict reached them

to give up their life following nature’s brainless rules

and be placed under authorities

who cared for their herds

with their rules.

Anyone who disobeys his leader

will be punished according to the law.

In such a way, they gave good laws to the discovered inhabitants,

to the people of the woods,

they appointed a guardian for them,

and gave them knowledge about mercy.