The change of paradigms. From museum objects to cultural belongings
Ládjogahpir is a crown like, graceful headgear that was used by Sámi women from the middle part of 18th century until the end of 19th century in the Sámi area in the coast and inland of Finnmarku from Guovdageaidnu to Várrját and Ohcejohka, Aanaar and Eanodat, in what is today Northern Norway and Finland. During the last years, repatriation has changed from marginal to one of the mainstream subjects in the European museum genre. This sudden and almost unpredictable development has also resulted in a change of paradigm in the Finnish museum world, as in 2017 the National Museum of Finland, among other museums, decided to repatriate their Sámi collections to the Sámi museum Siida.
Since the 17th century, Sámi cultural heritage, tangible and intangible has been gathered to European curiosity cabinets, museums and collections. Numerous missionaries, priests, researchers, collectors and travelers have been visiting Sámi settlements gathering, buying, bartering and sometimes even coercing people to give up their belongings. Currently there are over 57 000 Sámi objects in museum collections that are governed by others. Among these objects are the sacred drums but also other meaningful objects like a majority of the ládjogahpir
By exploring the history of collections, their origins and by sharing this information with the community can, at best, enable objects to be actively involved in empowering and healing processes.
Repatriation means restoring artefact collections from museums and other institutes to source communities. But it can also mean returning knowledge, so that the knowledge connected to the artefacts is retrieved to the community, by getting to know the production method and the materials of the artefacts in museum collections or the history behind the objects. Repatriation aims to transfer control of the cultural heritage to the source community. By exploring the history of collections, their origins, and by sharing this information with the community can, at best, enable objects to be actively involved in empowering and healing processes. A process where numbered objects revert to cultural belongings. These belongings carry the knowledge of the ancestors, they are the database, the language that opens to the descendants and they carry and evoke emotions at both a private and collective level. Like the ládjogahpir, the heritage within the objects breaks away from the museum vitrines and flows into the source community to create new meanings in addition to the old ones, thus undergoing a process of rematriation.