This week I am on a mini-tour with the dance and video performance “Arv/Heritage” produced by Stina Rávdná Lorås. This performance contains stories Stinas grandmother Agnethe Nikoline Margrethe Lorås Hansen has told the last six years. The topics in this performance are seamonsters, the war, shamanism, the burning of the witches, the underworld people, and city/nature. Topics I am specially interested in, thats why I said yes to compose music to this performance.
Agnethe hid her Sami background for 70 years, because of shame. When she was 80 years she could finally admit that she indeed was Sami. Last year she was elected “Sami of the year” by the Sami newspaper “Ávvir” for sharing her story.
In 1933 Agnethe enters the classroom and sits down at her desk as usual. She is just a child. The teacher Larsen with his arms crossed and says strictly: “Today a new law has been passed. It is not legal to be Sami any longer. So you must stop speaking Sami and thoughts shall not be in Sami anymore!” Who speaks Sami must be punished with detention corner, swats and violence.
The 11-year-old girl is shocked. The friend next to her gets pale and changed. She feels shivers down her back. She is a conscientious girl who obeys the teacher. This is just the beginning of Agnethes path to change who she is, by order from the Norwegian state.
In 1944, she and 60,000 others were forcibly evacuated south due to the war. Agnethe then works as a maid and child care taker for a merchant in Kvalsund (near Repparfjord). She stands on the ship’s deck and sees hundreds of fires burning. The smoke spreads out over the fjord. The Germans have set fire to most of Finnmark. As a big sister she is thinking of her little siblings. She has no idea where the other family members are. or if they even are alive. 22 years old she arrives at Trondheim by boat.
Agnethe is dirty after a week in a crowded boat. The clothes she arrives in are burned. There is too much lice detected in the evacuation boat. She is scared and insecure. “Are you Sami or Norwegian?” They ask at the evacuation reception. “- Norwegian, Agnete answers. With Larsen in memory, she is reminded that she must always answer that you are Norwegian when it comes to identity. Since that day she lived life as a Norwegian.
She goes to a work- home in town and eventually that place will be her home. She asks for a job and a bedroom next door, because she has no place to live. After some years she meets the love of her life. In over 50 years they shared sorrows and pleasures of life. It was only one secret Agnete kept hidden. That she is Sami.
During more then 70 years, anything related to Samis was a shunned topic in her home. Because the Norwegian government had indoctrinated that it should be wiped out with silence, she felt. Like thousands of others, she was a child under the severe Norwegianisation policy. The Sami had to be wiped away and hidden.
All Sami were to become Norwegians. That was Norway’s official policy for 100 years.
The Norwegianisation was brutal. Really brutal. It was abusive, she says today. They could just as well have shot all of us, then we had not existed and it had not been worse, says Agnethe.
In the performance “Arv/ Heritage” Agnethes grand-daughter, Stina has collected some of the stories into a performance with dance, video and music.
Manuscript and director: Stina Rávdná Lorås / Draug Produksjoner
Music: Elin Kåven og Roger Ludvigsen. Choreography: Atle Hoff
Dansers: Atle Hoff, Stina Rávdná Lorås and Tonje Sannes
Background story: Agnethe Nikoline Margrethe Lorås Hansen, Gerd Elen Lorås, Alf Lorås, Eli Lorås Juliussen
Contributers: Elin Kåven, Atle Hoff, Tonje Sannes og Stina Ravdna Lorås. Voices and technical assistance: Grethe Mo, Andreas Røst, Fredrik Jakobsen, Theis Irgens, Øystein Flemmen, Sigbjørn Hessaa.
Read more about the production here: Draug Produksjoner.
Post partly translated from this article 26.02.2019: https://www.nrk.no/sapmi/xl/det-var-ulovlig-a-vaere-agnete-1.14181910