Hey there all my Canadian friends, sorry to take her from you but Joni Mitchell is Sami! There’s no extensive research into her roots (yet) but this is what she told recently to a Norwegian journalist. Her grandparents came from Norway but were always ashamed to talk about their heritage. But once she met one of her cousins and asked whether their family has Sami background. Yes we have Sami blood, had the cousin replied.

So, in a proper proactive Sami manner I’m of course thinking how could we make most of this news and the extraordinary discovery of Sami kin. How exciting, what an opportunity!! (There’s also talk that Renee Zellweger might be Sami too – according to the goikkehat telegraph she attended a family reunion in Finnmark last summer. She should’ve asked her local cousins too – we might have an instant new Sami movie star for Nils Gaup’s next box office breaker! If she started learning Sami now – she can do it online from Hollywood – she’d be ready for the next big Sami flick, maybe on on the agonies of being Sami today, a modern natural woman…)

But back to Joni – of course she has to attend the Sami Grand Prix that’s coming up!! Now wouldn’t that get the entire Sápmi and beyond to Kautokeino this Easter! And unlike Renee, she doesn’t even have to learn Sami to sing and win the competition for the singing part of the Grand Prix. All you need is a good tune and a few incomprehensible syllables – that’s how we got the last year’s winner. But she has to hurry before they change the rules as some are demanding. (Though wouldn’t we make an exception for Joni, our new MOT to be added on the gallery of Sami luminaries?!)

And we have to hurry and not sleep past this unique opportunity! Strike when the iron is hot and not snooze like folks in the neighbouring Karasjok who didn’t even think of inviting their own star, Mari Boine, to celebrate the screening of Nils Gaup’s new movie, to which she made the music. And what did Mari Boine do? She wore a Kautokeino gákti instead of her own Karasjok one. I had to study the photo of her in Kautokeino gákti for a long time – I have to say it looked a bit odd. She looked like, well, like from Kautokeino! And we all know she’s from the Deatnu river (not far from my family place). But the Sami (and the Finnish tourist industy) love to dress people in the Kautokeino gákti because it’s so … flash.

But geez, the mayor of Kautokeino should be on the phone already, calling Mitchell’s agent and offering her not only a free entry to the Sami Grand Prix but also a Kautokeino gákti to perform on. She couldn’t refuse, could she? What an opportunity to explore her Sami roots further, in Kautokeino when the entire Sápmi is already here!

P.S. And what about adding Sami Oscar’s to the next year’s Easter Festival offerings?!! We aren’t quite up there yet with the Cherokees when it comes to stars but we’re not far behind!


7 thoughts on “Joni Mitchell and other famous Sami

  1. This is interesting! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Joni Mitchell has Sami ancestry! Cool. And maybe Rene Zellweger, too? Since today’s culture is so celebrity stricken, having celebrities in the family can be a good thing….who knows what sort of good media they can generate? Especially Joni Mitchell, as her heart and politics are in the right place. One has only to listen to her songs to understand that. I don’t know much about Rene Zellweger.

    I hope the film Kautokeino film gets English subtitles and appears here in Canada, although being here in Northwestern Ontario I would guess it will be awhile as it will most certainly hit Toronto first. It looks like a very interesting film. What a project. What an important story to get out to the “outside” world. I had no idea of Kautokeino’s sad and shocking history. Of course, I know the general situation of the violence of conversion, but learning to understand that through a specific historical event and place and through the medium of (popular) film, I am sure I will have my eyes opened. Thanks for posting this very interesting information and embedding the links to the film and people linked to it. I will tell Urho about the film; I know he will be very interested, too. He is very keen on hearing as much as he can about Samiland, because you can count on it, he has a story for every thing that comes up.
    p.s. your photos of the sun made me smile! what an uplifting post!

      1. Joni Mitchell also has roots in Sweden. Who can say who have Sami origin is not easy. Sami people had/have also last name like norwegians and swedish and not only Eira, Gaup and Hætta.
        Sami as people moved like other people from one area to another. There are many people of sami heritage in South-Norway and have always been that way.

        There are over 30.000 people of sami heritage in USA.

        Nowadays we know a lot of heritage. DNA tells it all.

      2. I guess we all want a piece of Joni Mitchell… Who wouldn’t?! Honestly, I don’t mind personally at all if she’s not Sami, she’s great anyway. I wrote this post back in the day as a tongue in cheek commentary on claiming celebrities and sometimes them claiming to have indigenous roots… Interesting how many comments the post has generated! On another note, maybe the Sami now need Joni Mitchell, who’s Canadian after all, now that a Canadian mining company has bought 1.7 million hectares of mineral rights in Norway, much of which are located in the heart of Sami region and important reindeer herding areas.

    1. Joni MAY or MAY NOT have Sami Genes. In my book VIGILANT ANCESTOR: A World of Secrets Whispered in My Ear, I noted that “She used to tell of her paternal grandfather, who came from the Lofoten Islands in Norway as having Sami blood. However, with the help of several Norwegian genealogists with a familiarity of the families in the Nordland region in Norway, Joni reports through her website that they concluded she is not of Sami lineage.”
      Since that time, I have found incidence where Sami people have FIBBED on Christian Church Genealogy records to erase their Sami Heritage. Being Sami for the past thousand years was NOT a feather in your cap. We were despised as a people much the same as American Indians were viewed. One possible method to determine ethnicity would be to test for the Sami Motif Gene. Only we have that gene. However, the genetics was passed down only by the Mothers and not the fathers, so that could create an issue or two. There are always other possibilities . . .

  2. My grandfather was quiet his whole life about his mother being Sami, but he spoke the language, as well as al dolska, and regular Swedish. His mother Brita Larson was a second wife for a Swedish-American homesteader. It was an ‘arranged’ marriage. Grandpa said “she lived with the herds”, which I suppose meant reindeer. When she got the offer to emigrate, she walked from Dalana to Oslo by herself! This brave woman was unfortuanately looked down upon by some people because she was physically so strong, they made jokes. Her butter, rug-making, talent with animals and other much needed crafts and skills were a marvel though, and we’re in high demand. My grandfather kept her ancestry a secret his whole life because of the idiotic bigotry of the times (which regrettably still exists in some fools minds) it makes me proud to see this site on the web, and see so many people honoring and preserving the very rare and precious Sami culture. Keep up the good work! Joni Mitchell may help to start a flood of people discovering their Sami roots.

  3. How to you find out if you have Sami blood. My great grandmother is supposed to be pure Sami…and my grandfather talked of raising reindeer in Kynsi-jarvi, Finland. Does the name Mary Kuha married to Kalle Kynsi-jarvi show up Sami?

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