The Sami ask the Danish queen to make the drum sacred in the witchcraft trial | Norway


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The Sami of Norway demand that a sacred drum confiscated by Denmark after a witchcraft trial in 1691 be returned to them definitively, and they have asked the Danish Queen for help.

The drum belonged to a Sami shaman, Anders Poulsson, who was arrested and jailed, court records show. It was confiscated and became part of the Danish Royal Family’s art collection before being transferred to the National Museum of Denmark in 1849.

Since 1979, the drum has been loaned by the Danes to the Sami Museum in Karasjok, Norway. The loan agreement expires on December 1 and the Drum is expected to return to Denmark. But the Sami people want it back.

The Sami Museum in Karasjok sent a request to the Danish National Museum earlier this year to officially take back ownership of the drum, and Sami parliament speaker Aili Keskitalo issued a statement to the Norwegian and Danish press demanding the return of the drum.

Keskitalo said: “This is a ceremonial and sacred object of great cultural value – used to predict the future and make contact with the spirit world by Sami shamans throughout history.

Only a few drums of this type still exist, most of which are in European hands, including one held by the British Museum.

“It’s a big deal for us,” Keskitalo said. “That such important objects be stored in museum cellars where the Sami cannot see or study them.

Danish National Museum research manager Christian Sune Pedersen told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that his team was studying the request.

He added that repatriation cases took longer than loan cases as they had to be decided by the Danish Minister of Culture. Neither the Danish National Museum nor the Ministry of Culture were available for comment.

Keskitalo said: “We have been asking for years – this is unacceptable.”

Because the drum was part of the Royal Danish Collection before it was part of the National Museum, Keskitalo hopes that the Queen of Denmark “can act as the conscience of the Danish people and of the Danish state”.

“I hope if she says ownership needs to be transferred, she will,” Keskitalo said.

Queen Margrethe has yet to respond.

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

“Thanks to this drum, we will be able to explain so much about the history of the Sami. It tells a story about emancipation and the struggle of the Sami to appropriate our culture, ”Keskitalo added. “The drum is the key to explaining our heritage. “

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