Finnish Immigrants and Ojibwa Indians / Minnesota

Sami People (indigenous Arctic People, Europe) 800px-Saami_Family_1900

f334ab17-d8ce-4754-a97a-5d2035880401Ojibwa (indigenous North American People – Canada, U.S.)

I’m not implying that the Finns who migrated to Ojibwa country were Sami. More on indigenous people’s Adaptation to  similar environments in a future post.


” In the Great Lakes region there are people with roots in Finland and among indigenous North American peoples. It’s impossible to know how exactly many of these so-called ‘Findians’ exist, but their numbers are estimated in the hundreds. Author Katja Kettu, journalist Maria Seppälä and photographer Meeri Koutaniemi documented their lives over the course of three years. Their experiences form the basis for their book, ‘Findian country’.”

Also, from an article about Finnish Americans visiting “Findia” in Minnesota.


Cuyamungue Website: About the Author:
Leppä (Harold Alden) resides in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His blog
Spirit BoatExploring Finnish shamanism.

Excerpt / There is evidence that the classic tietäjä tradition continued as late as the 1970’s in Canada. According to Matt T. Salo, Finnish immigrants took the tietäjä tradition with them during the periods of mass emigration to the United States and Canada in the early twentieth century. Salo, an anthropologist from Northern Illinois University, wrote that there still was a viable tietäjä tradition among Finnish immigrants in in the Sudbury, Ontario area of Canada at the time of his field research in the early 1970’s. (Salo, 1973)

Salo says “To some extent practices based on the magic world view were…transported to the New World with early immigrants. One such complex of beliefs here referred to as the tietäjä tradition, is based on the ancient practice of shamanism and still finds expression in the roles of the folk healers recognized among the Finnish settlers in northern Ontario.”

Salo details from his field research a variety of examples in which rural people consulting local tietäjäs and other folk healers in one or more of their roles: seer, magician, diviner, bloodstopper, bloodletter, bone setter, midwife, cupper, herbalist, or maker of medicines. In one example Salo describes what he calls a “healing drama little changed from the shamanic ritual practiced for millennia in the forests of northern Eurasia before being transplanted to Canadian soil.”

Some people had come to Canada already trained in these skills. For example, one individual near Sudbury was direct heir and former apprentice of Kyyran Jussi, a famous tietäjä in Finland. Others had learned the skills from other immigrants, relatives or friends.

Salo says that in general, the tietäjä tradition was embraced by those who were already familiar with it in Finland, generally first generation immigrants. He notes that there was considerably less interest in the practices among second and third generation Finnish-Canadians, suggesting that today nearly 40 years later, probably few remnants of the original tradition still exist.





2 thoughts on “Finnish Immigrants and Ojibwa Indians / Minnesota

  1. Forest Finns did not live in Sami or indian type of tipiis, but in loghouses. They made their houses, saunas, and cattle cabins with logs as decribed in this article:

    “There are many reasons for the common understanding forged by Finns and Native Americans, but above all they were united by their intimate relationship with the forest. Just like the Ojibwa Finns hunted, fished and foraged. The locals also valued Finns’ handiwork skills: the ability to build a boat or carve skis. Finns learned how to cultivate maize and use medicinal herbs, among other things. In return they lent their expertise in building log cabins and weaving shoes out of birch bark”.


  2. Findians origin was not Sami people of Lappland. There were Forest Finns who originally lived in Savonia Finland. They were somehow lonely farmers who pursued slash-and-burn agriculture. They settled, forest areas first in Sweden, Norway, Arctic sea coast, Russia, Alaska, Canada and Delaware River Valley of the United States and later southern parts of South America and New Zeland. Begining the late 16th and early-to-mid-17th-centuries.

    My mother was a daughter of these Savonian Forest Finns. She remember how she participated as a young girl in family effort to reclain new farming land by slash-and-burn method. This is a painting she associated herself with (She new that also President Bush was descant of Forest Finns).

    Liked by 1 person

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