Saami Heritage

Salomon Halonen

My grandmother was Marja (Maria) Dahl, a Saami, born in Vesisaari,Vadsà in northern Norway, near the Anni Joki on August 4, 1870. Her parents moved to Petsamo when she was a baby. There were 3 other Sami families living in Petsamo at the time. Matti Pankko, Piera Hans and Marjapik Mari Larsen. Her parents died shortly after and she was adopted by Marjapik Mari. She was known as the poron kuningatar (reindeer queen).
At age 20 she married a Finnish fisherman and boatbuilder and moved to Kola. My father, Salomon Halonen, was born Oct. 20, 1906, in Kola (now part of Russia). His father died the night that he was born, and he moved with his mother and other siblings to live in Petsamo when he was about 18 month’s old.

Marja Dahl
Marja Dahl

My grandmother made traditional Saami crafts with reindeer leather and stitched mittens using nalbinding techniques. In the summer months, she would travel back to Norway to work. She had a small sailboat and would go fishing and also sell the things she had made during the winter months in exchange for food items such as coffee, sugar and flour. Due to the long winters, the Saami were not able to do much craft work. During her trips to Norway, she purchased an oil lamp. She was really happy about this because she could then work longer hours on her crafts. The light shone from their small cabin and could be seen by other villagers as she worked during the long, dark winter days of the arctic North. My grandmother died on May 10, 1936 at age 65 of old age in a nursing home in Vuonokylä Petsamo.

Salomon Halonen
Salomon Halonen as a boy

His mother became ill and was not able to care for him so my father was moved to an orphanage/ boarding school in Russian Karelia. This photo was taken when he attended a boarding school in Petrosavoski, Petrozavodsk, Karelian Russia, age 13.

Salomon Halonen
Salomon Halonen

My father enjoyed music and was proud of his Saami heritage.