PHOTO: Denmark returns Samí artifact thanks to Norwegian pressure

Sami drumPhoto: Terje Bendiksby / NTB
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Denmark will permanently return a rare artifact drum to the Sami Museum in Karasjok. It was confiscated during the witchcraft trials in 1691 and returns thanks to pressure from both Samí and Storting politicians.

Danish loan of artifact becomes permanent

The Danish Minister of Culture has caved in to demands from Norway and approved the return of a Samí artifact drum stolen in 1691. Though the drum has been part of the Sami museum in Karasjok (RiddoDuottarMuseat) since 1979 it has only been there on a loan agreement with the Danish Ministry of Culture.

However, as the loan agreement was set to expire on December 1 last year, several prominent Norwegian politicians lobbied Copenhagen. The current Minister of Culture, Anette Trettebergstuen (AP), took the case up and believed that the Sami parliament should have rightful ownership of the three-hundred-year-old artifact.

Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen, the Danish Minister of Culture, spoke of the return of the drum. She said, in a press release, that “it is only natural that the drum gets its permanent home at the museum to which it has a historical affiliation.”

A “special case” for Danish Ministry of Culture

As the deadline for the expiration of the loan loomed last year, the Danish Ministry of Culture concluded, last autumn, that they would return the artifact. The final decision to return the artifact was made by the Danish Minister of Culture.

The Danish Museums Act allows, in special cases, the separation of objects, from their collections, with the permission of the Ministry of Culture. Jørgensen said, “Normally there is no question of separation to museums in other countries, but in this specific case, permission has been granted on the basis of the drum’s long-term loan to RiddoDuottarMuseat, in addition to the drum’s special connection to and relevance to the area.

The drum was confiscated, in 1691, as part of the witchcraft trial of Anders Poulsen from the Nessby area. With this drum, he was said to have “practiced the evil and wicked magic…” according to the Ságat. It was sent to Copenhagen, where it wound up in storage at the Ministry of Culture for years, whilst Poulsen was brutally hacked to death with an ax whilst awaiting sentencing.

The President of the Samí Parliament, Silje Karine Muotka. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB

Gives Sami community an important sense of closure

For the Samí community in Norway, a slice of history and culture has returned home. Silje Karine Moutka, the Samí Parliament President, was happy with the decision. Moutka thanked those who had helped the return of the drum said in a press release that “We are happy that Poala-Ánde, Anders Poulsson’s drum will remain at home in Sápmi. Now we can tell and show our story on our own terms.”

Anne May Olli, Museum Director at RiddoDuottarMuseat, spoke of how the return of the artifact represented an important sense of closure for the Samí community. Talking to the newspaper VG, she said “It feels good to get the formal ownership of something that is already ours. And that our own cultural heritage is recognized. It is important not only for us but for the whole of Sápmi.”

Source : © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayTravel

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