Sami legends for Russian North

Is it possible to organize a concert of Barents region Indigenous peoples in high-security prison, orphanage or Nenets board school? Charity organization “Rassvet” from Arkhangelsk knows the answer to this question.

15 years of cooperation

“Rassvet” – is a veteran of Barents cooperation who has successfully realized many interesting projects together with their partner Hålogaland Folk Academy (Alta, Norway). This year their union celebrates 15 years anniversary.

Of course, such date is worth celebrating by a special Barents project: “BEAR: Summer Solstice” which embraces not only Arkhangelsk region, but also Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The project presents the Indigenous peoples culture to ordinary citizens as well as to those who are in difficult life situation – prisoners, orphans and others who won’t be able to listen to Sami joik, old Norwegian legend, sound of reconstructed primitive trumpet, or Nenets epic song in other circumstances.

Indigenous peoples culture

Series of charity concerts of Norwegian and Russian musicians were held in various institutions in Arkhangelsk and Naryan-Mar – colleges, schools, orphanages, university and prisons including juvenile prison. Among the musicians there were Øystein Hansen who plays traditional Sami self-made instruments, famous story-teller Stina Fagertun, Nenets singer Faina Ledkova, and Semen Bolshunov, Sami singer and dancer from Murmansk region.

Such events are unique because they unveil the cultural segment which unites the North of Barents region. Spectators heard the melodies, ballades, and fairytales of Saami indigenous people who live in the Arctic region of Norway, fairytales and songs of Nenets people which are traditionally transferred orally by natives from generation to generation telling the history and daily lifestyle of Indigenous people.

Sometimes the stage is not needed

Stina Fagertun has already been in Arkhangelsk and performed for minors who are kept in juvenile prison within the other project of “Rassvet” organization. This time musicians also visited this institution as well as penal colony for adults who committed serious crimes. – It was a hard experience; it is a very specific place. Good that changes are ongoing and that officers of Federal Penitentiary service of Russia try to “humanize” conditions in which these people are kept, - told Stina.

Concerts in Naryan-Mar were of huge success. There musicians performed for children in Nenets board school, orphanage as well as guests of Festival of traditional cultures “Live, tradition!” Also they held an open masterclass in a Nenets chum.

This project proved to be very interesting, it united the performers and inspired them to create joint musical compositions. What is also very precious is that children got a possibility to see the beauty of indigenous people culture, feel proud for culture of their own folk, and moreover – this culture was disposed to people who generally have very limited contact with outer world in present moment.


Andrey Vokuev, Anna Petrova