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Сами

Fredrik's Journey to a Pain-Free Back

Fredrik Prost, traditional Sami handicraftsman
January, 2015
Fredrik Prost’s journey in posture is a poignant one. Restoring one’s natural architecture is a return home for anyone - a return to one’s personal past, ancestral past, and genetic past. For Fredrik, it’s additionally a return to his living Sami relatives and those alive in his memory. The Sami are an indigenous group of reindeer herders living in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Fredrik is a traditional Sami handicraftsman working with reindeer antler, metal, and wood. Being of a younger generation and between a traditional lifestyle and a modern one, his working posture included hunching over his work. As a result he had developed upper back pain for which conservative treatment failed to give him relief. He discovered my book, and the pictures and philosophy resonated for him - I was describing things he had seen with his own eyes. Read more

Sleeping on Birch Branches in Samiland

July, 2015
This month I traveled to Northern Sweden and joined my friend Fredrik Prost's community for the annual marking of their reindeer calves. It was an amazing experience I will never forget. Though the Sami have given up many of their traditional ways, many persist and in the coming months, I will share aspects I found inspiring or educational. Traditional Sami housing is a tepee or lavoo, with long birch poles forming the main structure (these used to be transported from place to place by domesticated reindeer), and stitched reindeer skin providing the cover. The top of the lavoo is open to let smoke from a fire escape. Read more

Beauty, Art, and Posture

August, 2015
I came home from my visit with the Sami with a treasured possession, my new Sami knife and sheath. I had commissioned my student and friend, Fredrik Prost, a Sami handicraftsman, to make a knife for me and he had it ready for me on my arrival in Sweden. Fredrik encouraged me to put it into use right away when we cut birch branches to make our “mattresses" in the lavoo (traditional tepee). I would have balked at using a thing so fine and beautiful for an activity so rough and pedestrian, but he insisted - the knife was made to be a working knife. Since my return to California, the knife has harvested okra and zucchini from my garden, trimmed apples from our tree, and cut thin slices of the dried reindeer meat Fredrik sent me home with. Read more