As part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s Outrider project, performance storyteller and award-winning writer Mara Menzies (author of Blood and Gold – Saltire Fiction Book of the Year 2022) shared a stage with her ‘snow-sister’, playwright Rawdna Carita Eira.
Rawdna, who has spent half of her life as a reindeer herder in a world that is now threatened by ‘greed and colonialism’, welcomed Mara to Norway. Together – snow-sister and sun-sister – travelled over Sápmi, the cultural region across Scandinavia traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people. In their travels they shared deep insights into tradition, indigenous myth and legend and, of course, story-telling.
At today’s event, Mara read from a moving and powerful new piece of writing – responding to her time there. And Rawdna not only read from her own work but talked passionately about the struggle in Norway for this tiny minority who have worked with the migrating reindeer for as long as anyone can remember, now fighting against the Norwegian government and the very real and present threats to their way of life. ‘They want to turn the north into an industrial park. They are planning to have windmills and greenwash the oil industry of Norway. We are in the way. This area simply might not be here in ten years. It is about money. We are using arts to say this is not the way to save our world. The reindeer have been a way of life for a very long time. If this is wiped out by windmills… well, it is not the way’. They talked too of the activism of young people sending a strong signal. But Rawdna spoke of their sadness of seeing the young ones carried away by the police just as they did in the 1970s when they built a power station.