"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: It's No Joik

Monday, August 29, 2005

It's No Joik

One of my more tender childhood memories is harmonizing with my dad on car trips, not only Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art but Red River Valley and other folk tunes. I was dismayed to learn that the OALC has dropped Amazing Grace from its repertoire. It is a lovely song. However, this antimusical action is very much in keeping with Laestadian tradition. Here is an excerpt from a master's thesis by Rebekah Moore. You can read the whole thing here.

"As an adult, Læstadius blended together elements of Sámi cultures, such as the four Sámi languages in which he was fluent, as well as supernatural figures from Sámi spiritual practices with Christian spiritual practices. He conducted extensive research on Sámi spirituality, and used the knowledge he gleaned to attack the “old ways” in his teachings. As a Christian leader and a Sámi, Læstadius affectively criticized the Sámi worldview because he understood it. His activities were exceptionally successful; to this day many Sámi are still practicing Læstadians. Læstadianism had a great impact on the performance of joiks. In fact, joiks were the central cultural expression attacked by Læstadius. Many Sámi today still view joiking as a sin. . . . "

". . . . Læstadius and his followers successfully alienated joikers from the 19th century forward, which subsequently led to a decline in the practice of joik. In the 1960s when Arnsberg, Ruong, and Unsgaard set out to make a collection of joiks they encountered many Sámi who were also Læstadians and condemned the practice of joiking; but they also encountered Sámi Læstadians who practiced joik in secret. They met one man in their journeys through Swedish Sápmi who refused to perform when he heard there was a chance the joiks would be broadcast. He said he was a strict Læstadian, and would have been willing to do it “for scientific purposes,” if his joiks were not made public. Evidenced in this encounter is the fact that, despite the absorption of Læstadius’s teachings regarding the joik, this indigenous music-making survived underground. Additionally, hymn singing in Sámi Læstadian parishes, as in other denominations, maintained many of the aesthetics of the Sámi joik, even as the actual tradition was condemned by worshippers."

If you want to hear some joiking, listen to clips of Marie Boine (photo). She was raised in a strict Laestadian home.

No doubt Amazing Grace will continue to be sung in strict Laestadian homes. Here is a nice folk version.


  1. What is a joik?

  2. Joik is a traditional Sami songstyle. The Joik is often compared to American Indian chanting, a description that is correct insofar it sounds similar, yet a joik is not a song about a person or place but an attempt of the joiker to sing the essence of the subject.


  3. I had the opportunity to listen to a live joik performance last Thursday, but to be honest I was much more impressed by the Buryation folk music group that performed after the Sami group (Buryatia is an area in the Russian Far East close to China and Mongolia).

    But I do like some of the songs of Mary Boine. :)

  4. Just listened to the Amazing Grace clip you posted. Wonderful!
    Lastadians supress the natural beat/tempo we are all born with. Just watch the little ones when they hear an upbeat song. It's there to start with it just gets beaten down.
    Joik sounds interesting.

  5. http://members.tripod.com/ARRAN_1/CopperCntry.html

    Here is a link by historian Jim Kurtti, who assesses that many American Laestadians may be as much Sami as they are Finnish.

    As for me, a near-full blooded American Finn with roots on both sides of the Torne River and in Oululaain, I look more like Mary Boine than the stereotypical tall long-legged blonde. Even Mary's features are close enough to mine that we could be mistaken for sisters. I remember once a former boss, who asserted that I did not really look like the Finn she pictured in her mind. When I told her of my probably Sami roots and showed her a picture, then she got it. She was a big proponent of diversity to the point that sometimes I believed she discriminated against whites. I guess I rose up in her eyes when she could now consider me sort of an indigenous sort. He he.

  6. ya, I'm still around. Who is this? If you want to chat you can contact me at ex_llc@yahoo.com

  7. God's peace. Welcome to the discussion boards. It's kind of exciting hearing from someone who knows me personaly. I look foward to hearing from you.

  8. I'm upset that some member of the LLC thought it was his business to "out" a former member.

  9. Thanks for linking to the song, Amazing Grace. I've never heard it sang with such feeling before.

  10. The web site for Arran and the Sami Siida of North America has moved. New web address is: http://home.earthlink.net/~arran2/index.htm
    There are a few pictures from FinnGrand Fest 2005 in Marquette where the Siida had a camp. They also have started a forum/blog. There is information at the web site about this.
    I also have a question. Is there a way to contact the administrator of this blog privately? I have a question for the administrator but would like to ask it privately. (I guess this show that I am new to blogging.)

  11. I tried this e-mail address and it did not go through. Are you sure it is .org?

  12. Hi
    I'm the webmaster for Árran and the Sami Siida of North America which some people have already mentioned above. Thought I would post the correct links as the sites have moved.

    The Jim Kurtti article and many more articles on Sami culture and North American Sami are on the Árran site
    And many more Sami yoik artists as well as an array of other English language Sami links on the Siida site.