Text Silja Massa Photography Meeri Koutaniemi
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.
Between 1860 and 1924 some 370,000 people left Finland for North America to seek a better life. The main reasons to emigrate were unemployment, social problems and the period of ‘Russification’ before Independence--but a desire for adventure was also a factor. In America Finns worked in the forests and the mines. While out in the woods and at trade union meetings they met Native Americans and even married some of them. The majority of marriages were with members of the Ojibwa tribe, the largest in the region. Finns tended to have less knowledge about their new home country--and therefore also fewer prejudices about the people native to the land.
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.
read the whole article and check out the awesome photos at http://yle.fi/uutiset/findians__the_stor...ns/9087943