ruåttvuõttâd, Pauliina Feodoroff

narrator Pauliina Feodoroff
term ruåttvuõttâd

ruåttvuõttâd - to make kin, to become kin


Ruåttvuõttâd (Making of kin in skolt saami language) could be one of the oldest forms of socializing:  making peaceful relations, alliances to avoid possible need to destruct the other by finding a common relative, the connection between you and I.  Ruåttvuõttâd between people, peoples and all the living kinds.  A culture that is still in transition from oral to ... digital? Academical? Bureaucratical? has faced almost invincible hardships in making kin with the other bureaucracies/ governmental/ industrial entities, and therefore withdrawing from the noise that cannot be passed, focusing on nurturing the relations and alliances with territories:


” We come in peace/ collaborating coexistingly/actively renewing the alliances” has been the phrase indicating the commitment for non-violent intentions when meeting with new entities, when returning to family territories, when meeting with relatives, ruått. A quote from Sheridan and Longboat has stayed with me almost two decades when meeting with Snow change co-operative ( and taking the very first steps of becoming the territorial guardian again:


“Onkwehonwe (unassimilated, traditional Haudenosaunee)... regards any assumption concerning the existence of autonomous, anthropogenic minds to be aberrations that violate the unity, interrelation, and reciprocity between language and psychology, landscape and mind. The ecology of traditional Haudenosaunee territory possesses sentience that is manifest in the consciousness of that territory, and that same consciousness is formalized in and as Haudenosaunee consciousness...Onkwehonwe minds everything because everything minds Onkwehonwe. Haudenosaunee minds are composed not just of visible ecological domains but also by the numinous qualities of those domains that, allowed to mature, express the fullness of traditional territory. Old-growth minds and cultures mature, emerge, and encompass the old-growth of their traditional territory.” [1]


Old-growth culture is where I was born, the old-growth that has undergone clear cuts and open-pit mining and it is my duty to plant the seeds for old-growth territories to return, in the full sense.


Traditionally, in Skolt Saami endemic world, there has been a relationship between the ancestral territory, which could have been used by the same kin for hundreds and hundreds of years, and the alliances between places, animals, and families, were renewed in cyclic order. A myriad of different practices, policies, systems how the alliances between the families, animals, and places were governed and managed and living understanding how those unwritten, physical conventions that lasted for millennia are manifested for example in place names our ancestors left behind, covering all the area where our cultural inhabitancy has taken place.  Just a small, small glimpse:


Map (test version 2019): Stina Aletta Aikio, Pauliina Feodoroff, Kaisu Mustonen, Tero Mustonen, Jelena Porsanger, Hilkka Semenoff, Jorma Mattsson


We have started to re-establish traditional water management practices in River Njâuddam as a climate change adaptation strategy.


Over the past nine years, our team consisting of reindeer herders, fishermen, scientists, and artists has gathered traditional knowledge and observations on how land is changing in a changing climate. Combined with weather diaries, catch diaries, interviews, temperature diaries and measurements of the heavy metals on the water we have focused on observations about the introduction of foreign species to the area, analyzing the status of known spawning sites and place names as a source of valuable information.


Special interest has been rested on site-specific macro-vocabularies and traditional law practices on the river. Based on the observations and analytical work, both from the traditional and scientific knowledges point of view, the first physical watershed restorations have begun four years ago.


We are currently restoring the watershed areas, where the past land use, such as logging and burning the land, man-made water flow alterations and construction of roads and bridges has led to a loss of spawning sites for salmon, trout and other fishes. By reintroducing old spawning sites, we are giving the salmon and its relatives more possibilities for survival with extreme heatwaves.


We can only undo the man-made damages. The river needs to find her own way to cope with changing climate. We just must not interfere her with this extremely demanding process.

[1] Sheridan and Longboat, The Haudenosaunee Imagination and the Ecology of the Sacred, 2006, p. 366