Publicerat 23 juli, 2013

Katarina Barruk revitalises Sami language

Katrina Barruk has a passion for music and for Ume Sami, a minority language only spoken by a few people in the whole world.

“As a musician, I want to promote this minority language and revitalise it. During Umeå2014 we get a great opportunity to highlight the Sami culture so that more people will gain insight.”

Growing up in Storuman, Katarina Barruk quickly got an appetite for music. Her mother plays piano and her father yoiks. The family speaks fluent Ume Sami.

“I have always been convinced that I would become a musician. It is important to do something you love, something you’re passionate about. If you feel well, the result will often be the same. I want to move people with personal songs about life,” says Katarina Barruk.

She describes her mother tongue as ”a treasure and a great love.”

“If the language is not in use, it might just die. That is why I want to dedicate my life to both music and language. My passion is to make the Ume Sami grow as a language.”

Katarina Barruk’s main instrument is voice, but she also plays the piano. As a 16-year-old, in 2010, she moved from Storuman to Umeå to attend the three-year music arts program at Midgårdsskolan.

There I got much help to evolve musically. I am very happy in Umeå although I get homesick for the mountains sometimes. Getting close to nature gives me peace, tranquility and inspiration.

At Midgårdsskolan she has also managed to find members for a band. Elias Häreskog on bass, Mattias Nygren on the percussion instrument cajón and Emmy Westling on piano. The sound is a mix between contemporary tones and traditional Sami music.

By melding texts in Ume Sami and yoik elements into her music, Katarina Barruk hopes to revitalise the Sami language.

“Although everyone won’t understand all the words, the resulting dynamics create an image of the context.”

Language immersion
She also works as a teacher at the association Algguogåhtie, Umesamer in concert, which is conducting language immersion in Ume Sami. Since 2009 when the association was founded, Àlgguogåhtie has received grants from the Institute for Language and Folklore, but also from the different administrative municipalities for Sami, where Umeå is included.

“The purpose of language immersion is to help develop the Ume Sami, which was the first Sami written language, as a continued living language. Language immersion has been held at various locations where hundreds of people aged 4 to 70 years old have participated, both Ume Sami and others with an interest in languages.”

“The initiative has been very successful,” says Katarina Barruk.

She emphasises how important language and the native tongue is for us all.

“A language is not just about making yourself understood, but is also about quality of life and self-esteem. Since the Sami languages ??have been oppressed, they have not been able to progress in the same way as the chief language. However, there has been a positive attitude change and I feel that there is a strong desire to reclaim the native language,” says Katarina Barruk.

In 2012 Katarina Barruk received the Young Artist of the Year award at the Sami indigenous festival Riddu Riddu. In 2013 she also received the Youth prize of the Year during the annual Sami Week in Umeå, arranged by Umeå Sami Association for the 14th consecutive year. So what are her plans for the future?

“People keep asking me for a record, something that I now have time to work on after graduation,” she says with a smile.

What does Umeå2014 mean for the Sami culture and language?

“A lot! We get the opportunity to highlight the Sami, helping people all over Europe to gain more insight. Those who live in the Sami culture is also able to find support and financial resources for various programme activities, something that will contribute to further progress.

Performing at Stora Nolia this August

On a side note, Katarina Barruk will be performing at the Stora Nolia Fair on August 3. See the lineup in our calender.

Photo: Yvonne Rittvall

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