Monday, September 14, 2015

On Being Sami (part 1)

            So, a while back my parents took at DNA test through 23 and me. My dad’s results were kinda surprising. He’s genetically on the Asian/Native American end of things. So, they looked at the fine print and it essentially said, “If you appear European, but get this result, you might be Sami.”
            The Sami are Reindeer Herders who live in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Check outthis video to get a sense of their life. I love the point where they’re describing their cuisine—it reminds me of “the shrimp scene” in Forest Gump—Reindeer stew, Reindeer steak, Reindeer blood pancakes… traditionally the only vegetables in their diet is lichen!
            The natural question was, “Why didn’t we know about this?” Well, our best guess is when great-grandma ran off to Canada she didn’t advertise that she was Sami, because back in the old country Sami women were sterilized (in some countries up untilthe 1970’s)! Dad vaguely remembers someone once calling her “a Finnish gypsy.”
            The second question is, “Wait… Asian/Native American?” One common theory is that a group of Mongolian nomads were following their animals north. When they got to the Artic some turned right, crossed a land bridge, and ended up in America. Others turned left, wandered into Scandinavia, becoming its first inhabitants, the Sami. There are other theories about the origins of the Sami. Most of the evidence about the Sami’s origins is linguistic and genetic, so innately a little fuzzy.

            Not that genetics is destiny or anything, but the fact that some of my ancestors were nomadic carnivores… will surprise no one who knows me well. Staying in one place isn’t my forte and most of the recipes in my recipe box begin with “Obtain 1lb Meat.”

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