Saami Shaman Drum
I am part Sáami. Who are the Sáami?

The Sáami people (also spelled Sami) are one of the indigenous people of northern Europe inhabiting Sapmi, which today encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia but also in the border area between south and middle Sweden. Their ancestral lands span an area the size of Sweden in the Nordic countries. The Saami people are among the largest indigenous ethnic groups in Europe. Their traditional languages are the Sami languages, which are classified as members of the Finno-Lappic group of the Uralic language family (Wikipedia).

The phrase "Drum Time" refers to the time before our drums were banned by colonizers.

My poems "Check The Box" and "Cartography" appear in Drunken Boat's First Peoples Issue. "Cartography" is a poem about the Noaide (shaman) drum.


Grandmother, you chewed alder
            to red paste,                mixed ash
from woodstoves,       a tincture
     traced on swollen bellies, landmarks
for reindeer traveling                         to the sun—
            Charcoal figures: fisher and boat,
hunter’s bow,              a conduit         between
                        and tundra.
You warmed painted hide
            by camplight in the season     before black
robes silenced our      trances.           Now, I peer
           at drummed bellies
beneath a tree rising               from center,
           what remains              hidden
in mountains near seidda—rock piles,
            beneath sedge—sun-skins now          mute
behind museum glass. I see your       patterns
            moving            upon laavu walls
sketching tracks to the           pulse   of thumb,
            hooves             on the rim of my drum,
                                    a map
lingering with lichen-scent,                           signposts
            herding            my migration toward home.

*Seidda: rock piles marking Sáami worship sites. Laavu: Sáami tent. Missionary efforts nearly wiped out our Sáami drums. In the 1600s, Sáami were ordered to dispose of the drums and attend church. Our Noiade (shamans) hid themselves and their drums in the mountains. Some families hid drums; others were burned or sold to museums.
My Shaman Drum


Popular Posts