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Herder wants Hollywood cash for old joik

A reindeer farmer in northern Norway is claiming a traditional Sami chant used in Hollywood movie The Thing was originally given to him as a gift by his aunt.

Herder wants Hollywood cash for old joik
YouTube Screenshot

The chant, or joik, used in the film first came to prominence in 1980, when it formed an integral part of Norway’s entry in that year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Now, more than 30 years later, reindeer herder Isak Mathis Triumf has threatened to take legal action against the Norwegian duo that performed Sámiid Ædnan (Sami Earth) in front of a huge European television audience.

In a field of 19 entrants, the song finished 16th. The competition was won that year by Ireland’s Johnny Logan with the song What’s Another Year.

While the joik failed to win over Europe’s music juries, its reappearance this year in horror film The Thing is expected to vastly increase the value of the copyright. And Triumf is determined to have a share of the spoils.

“We Sami don’t know how much money could be involved, or how much we can actually earn from this. That’s why I haven’t reacted earlier,” he told national broadcaster NRK.

The song’s composition is officially attributed to its singer, Sverre Kjelsberg, who was one of Norway’s biggest pop stars in the 1960s with his band The Pussycats.

Kjelsberg was accompanied on stage in The Hague by Mattis Hætta, a member of Norway's indigenous Sami community, who sang the contentious joik segment.

Kjelsberg and Hætta are refusing to comment on the reindeer herder’s fresh ownership claim. Hætta previously told NRK that the matter had been discussed 30 years ago and he saw no need to go back over old ground.

But Triumf is adamant that the joik was bestowed on him as a gift from his aunt, Marit Hætta Ketola, in 1966.

“It’s not acceptable for a Norwegian just to add a few Norwegian phrases here and there and throw a bit of music on top,” he told NRK.

"The joik itself is mine, but the way things stand I’m not currently the legal owner of the joik. That’s why I intend to take the legal route.”

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OFFBEAT

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration will need to clear up more than 1,000 trucks worth of stones and rubble it left near the stunning UNESCO world heritage listed Nærøyfjord.

Norwegian road authority in hot water for dumping rocks near UNESCO-listed fjord
Nærøyfjorden near to where the Norwegian Public Roads Administration left behind more than 11,000 cubic metres of rocks. Photo by Arian Zwegers on Flickr.

Fly-tipping and rubbish dumping are typically associated with rogue tradespeople and cowboy builders, but it’s the Norwegian Public Roads Administration that is being asked to clear some 11,250 cubic metres of rocks it left near a UNESCO listed beauty spot.

The breathtaking Nærøyfjord in Aurland municipality, south-western Norway, is a landscape conservation area meaning its protected and, therefore, the rubble shouldn’t have been left there.

“This is a blister. We will clean up after ourselves,” Stig Berg Thomassen, project manager for the road authority, told NRK.

The rocks were left behind following a project to upgrade the nearby Gudvanga tunnel.

Thomassen said the mess was left in the conservation area because it wasn’t clearly marked as off-limits.

Nærøyfjorden has been listed as a landscape conservation area since 2002, and the site was added to the UNESCO world heritage list a few years later in 2005.

READ ALSO: You can now get married at this famous Norwegian beauty spot

The municipality in Aurland has given the road authority until December 17th to clear the mess. The mayor for the municipality said the road authority would begin to clear up the remnants of its building project as soon as possible.

The stones won’t be going far, though and will only be moved around 50 to 100 metres along the road to where the conservation area ends.

Project manager Thomassen has admitted that the situation could have been avoided with better planning.

“Yes, we should have probably have done that (prepared better). The situation is as it is, so we just have to clean up. It won’t take long to move the rocks. The Stones will only be transported 50 to 100 meters,” he confessed.

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