The High North Tour 2021: “I Went to School to Learn Kven”

Arne O. Holm joins a Kven language class when visiting Skibotn, the home town of Iditarod race and serum run legend Leonard Seppala, who was Kven. 

Skibotn: “In Skibotn, Finnish, Kven, Sami and Norwegian culture meet. It was only fair that I had a lesson in Kven when visiting Storfjord municipality on the Kven National Day”, says Arne O. Holm.

“After greeting the statue of legendary musher Leonard Seppala, the man to whom much credit is due for the very existence of Iditarod, the world’s longest sleddog race, I was graciously received in the school class of Silja Skjelnes-Mattila”, Arne O. Holm says.

“And as if it weren’t enough for a Kven from Skibotn to co-found a sleddog race in Alaska, it was also inspiring to meet a teacher of Kven who comes from Fredrikstad [near Oslo].”

At one of the other desks in class we find former Regional Road Director Torbjørn Naimak.

The Kven National Day has many origins, but in modern times it is related to the Association of Norwegian Kvens being created on this date back in 1984.

“Join us in the classroom. Perhaps you too will pick up a Kven word or two!”

Join us on the High North Tour 2021

This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.