Inghilda Tapio is one of the last generation of indigenous children born into a nomadic Saami reindeer herding family in the Arctic Circle, and is now an inspirational poet and performer.
Born into a nomadic Saami reindeer herding family after WWII, Inghilda is a member of Sweden's own 'stolen generation,' forced by the Swedish government to attend residential boarding schools in the early 1950s. At the age of seven, Inghilda was removed from her teepee home, reindeer herds and Saami parents for months at a time, isolated and confused by the difficult Swedish language, intimidated by the unfamiliar school environment and foreign customs.
Despite these challenges, Inghilda continued on to university to become a poet, performer, teacher and international representative for Saami writers. She lives most of the year in Karesuando, on the border between Sweden and Finland, over two hundred kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. Her extended family members continue their herding traditions in Saapmi, which is their preferred name for the northern regions of Sweden, Norway, Sweden and Russia, previously referred to as Lapland.
Inghilda's Saami community has survived centuries of attempted cultural assimilation and Christian indoctrination by the Swedes, and now faces new threats posed by mining, forestry and hydroelectric development, as the reindeer's ancient migratory routes are disrupted, and traditional cultural practices threatened.
One of Europe's last indigenous cultures, and an ethnic minority in Sweden numbering less than 20,000 people, the Saami are regaining their voice to fight for independence for their culture and traditional lands.
This innovative documentary by award-winning director Janet Merewether blends English and Northern Saami languages to present the life of a woman who is passionate about preserving her Northern Saami language and culture for future generations.
Please see Reindeer in My Saami Heart for more information. The film is in the last stages of production and will be released soon! Because of vimeo's privacy settings the video can't be embedded but here is a link to the trailer.