Lakselv – Hammerfest


Walking towards Trollholmsund


On the way from Lakselv to Hammerfest, we stopped at Trollholmsund – a group of dolomite rocks by the fjord. There is a story that trolls had come down from the mountain plateau with a chest of gold and were crossing the fjord with it. They failed to make caves to hide in before the sun came up, and when the sunlight hit them, they were turned into stone. The stone pillars are surprisingly big. You can see the size of them compared to the person below:


Further on up the fjord towards Hammerfest, we stopped briefly at a Sea Sami farmstead. Traditionally, the Sea Sami lived off fishing and farming of cattle and sheep. Because of living along the coast, they have come into closer contact with other settlers – both Norwegians and Kvens. This means that there has been more intermarriage and cultural assimilation than in the Sami areas inland.


In Hammerfest is the museum of the rebuilding of Finnmark after WW2. The Germans followed a “burnt earth” policy as they retreated. This mass-destruction of homes and villages along the coast, is also a reason why it can be hard to “find” Sea Sami culture today. Many of the Sea Sami, whose cultural affiliation was weakened due to assimilation and Norwegianization, then lost their last surviving connections with their home.


Hammerfest before WW2



Hammerfest in 1945


In the first years after the war, people had to live where they could until their homes were rebuilt. Some people made shelters out of boats. In 1945, seven people lived in the hut on the right:


The museum in Hammerfest is also worth a mention because I think it has one of the best portrayals of the Sami that I have come across. Instead of being in their own section, set apart from the main exhibitions, as is the norm, they are included throughout the museum as a natural part of the local population and of events described. Among other things, the museum has made up some example homes from different periods in time and taken photos of people living in them. One of these sets of photos is of a Sami family, living in a modern house. It might seem odd that this would be worthy of comment, but so often indigenous peoples are portrayed as people living in the past, living in turf huts or tents. It is important to also portray them as modern people, whose culture is living and evolving, but it is rare for it to be done so well.





Looking over Hammerfest from the mountain behind.