Sáami people ask Danish queen to return sacred witchcraft trial drum

A drum belonged to a Sámi shaman, Anders Poulsson, confiscated by Denmark in 1691 and became part of the Danish royal family’s art collection have created controversy between Norway’s Sáami people and Denmark. 

Anders’s drum was transferred to Denmark’s National Museum in 1849.

A copy of Anders Poulsen’s drum.

Since 1979, the drum has been on loan from the Danes to the Sámi museum in Karasjok, Norway. The loan agreement expires on 1 December, and it is expected to return to Denmark. But the Sámi people want it back.

Last April, the Sami Museum sent a demand to Denmark to formally take over ownership of the drum.

Sami Parliament President, Aili Keskitalo, has asked the Danish Queen for her support to keep the Sami cultural treasure in the Sápmi region. 

Queen Margrethe has yet to respond.

Sami Parliament President Aili Keskitalo said in a statement to Norway and Danish press: “This is unworthy. Should we beg and smile like kind girls to keep our own cultural objects? We have very few drums left in Sami ownership, and this specific drum has great significance for our cultural history. It is horrible that Sami can hardly see our own cultural objects, without going to Germany, Denmark or London”.

 “This is a ceremonial, sacred object of high cultural value – used to predict the future and get in touch with the spirit world by Sámi shamans throughout history.” Mrs Kestitalo added. 

The Danish Royal Court has referred the matter to Danish National Museum which has stated the situation is difficult but is considering returning the drum. The final decision will be made by the Danish Minister of Culture, Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen who is currently weighing the matter.

The Sámi parliament also points to the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, adopted by Denmark and Norway, it says gives it the right to own the historic artefact.



Categories: Europe

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