Sinchi goes to arctic Norway to document the historical Saami festival ‘Riddu Riddu’

For the first time since our inception in 2016, we will be paying a visit to the groundbreaking and historical indigenous music and culture festival Riddu Riddu. Initially an all Saami gathering when founded 29 years ago, the festival has grown out to include many other indigenous cultures from around the world, and their respective cultural traditions. Translated to English, the festivals’ name reads “small storm by the sea”. Being held in the most northern point of Norway, this festival is both as much a cultural gathering as it pays hommage to the surrounding natural environment of the Saami that live there. Held every year in the month of July, the arctic village of Olmmáivággi remains mostly light during the night, which is quite the phenomenon in itself. On top of that, the village is surrounded by fjords and lavish green mountains, quite the environment for some beautiful photo and video documentation.

What makes this festival most groundbreaking and inspiring is that it offers a meeting place between two seemingly separate worlds; the world of native custom and modernity. Riddu Riddu proves that these two can go hand in hand, creating whole new levels of collaboration and artistic expressions. Having been exposed to a decades long governmental policy of assimilation, the Saami in Norway are well familiar with the Norwegian culture, yet they have largely maintained and re-built their ancestral knowledge, which has resulted in this cross-over cultural gathering. Everyone is welcome and everyone can offer something unique to the experience of both Saami AND global indigenous identities.

Both the very nature of Saami culture (which is not to forget one of the very few European tribal cultures still alive today) and the groundbreaking program of the Riddu Riddu festival made it unevitable for Sinchi, as a foundation for indigenous culture and knowledge, to pay a visit. We will gather our tents and pack our bags with some arctic resilient garment, cameras in hand, and head over to both hold interviews with artists and facilitators and document the line-up between 10 and 14 july. Not entirely sure yet what to expect, we are preparing ourselves currently by doing background research into the artists and facilitators which have been announced just this week, which has resulted in the following tentative list of topics for our documentation:

  1. What does it mean to be Saami within the context of modern day Europe?
  2. What does it mean to belong to a global community of indigenous peoples? Is there a sense of belonging back and forth?
  3. (How) does the ‘festivalization’ of indigenous culture contribute to the creation of awareness about the indigenous cause?

If you have any other thoughts and ideas on the matter and you would like to make suggestions for our documentation of Riddu Riddu 2019, please don’t hesitate to reach out to: inge@sinchi-foundation.com.

To check this years’ line-up (or maybe even book your own tickets), please go to the festivals’ website: http://riddu.no/en

More updates will follow soon!

  • The photo used for this article depicts a Saami family, taken in the year 1900