The Rocks Will Echo Our Sorrow: The Forced Displacement of the Northern Sámi (Hardcover)

The Rocks Will Echo Our Sorrow: The Forced Displacement of the Northern Sámi By Elin Anna Labba, Fiona Graham (Translated by) Cover Image
By Elin Anna Labba, Fiona Graham (Translated by)
Order now - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days


The deep and personal story—told through history, poetry, and images—of the forced displacement of the Sámi people from their homeland in northern Norway and Sweden and its reverberations today

More than a hundred years have passed since the Sámi were forcibly displaced from their homes in northern Norway and Sweden, a hundred years since Elin Anna Labba’s ancestors and relations drove their reindeer over the strait to the mainland for the last time. The place where they lived has remained empty ever since. We carry our homes in our hearts, Labba shares, citing the Sámi poet Áillohaš. How do you bear that weight if you were forced to leave? In a remarkable blend of historical reportage, memoir, and lyrical reimagining, Labba travels to the lost homeland of her ancestors to tell of the forced removal of the Sámi in the early twentieth century and to reclaim a place in history, and in today’s world, for these Indigenous people of northern Scandinavia.


When Norway became a country independent from Sweden in 1905, the two nations came to an agreement that called for the displacement of the Northern Sámi, who spent summers on the Norwegian coast and winters in Sweden. This “dislocation,” as the authorities called it, gave rise to a new word in Sámi language, bággojohtin, forced displacement. The first of the sirdolaččat, or “the displaced,” left their homes fully believing they would soon return. Through stories, photographs, letters, and joik lyrics, Labba gathers a chorus of Sámi expression that resonates across the years, evoking the nomadic life they were required to abandon and the immense hardship and challenges they endured: children left behind with relatives, reindeer lost when they returned to familiar territory, sorrow and estrangement that linger through generations.


Starkly poetic and emotionally heart-wrenching, this dark history is told through the voices of the sirdolaččat, echoing the displacements of other Indigenous people around the world as it depicts the singular experience of the Northern Sámi. For her extraordinary work, Labba was awarded Sweden’s most important national book prize in 2020, the August Prize for Best Nonfiction.

About the Author

Elin Anna Labba is a Sámi journalist and was previously editor-in-chief of the magazine Nuorat. She received Sweden’s August Prize for Best Nonfiction as well as the prestigious Norrland Literature Prize.


Fiona Graham is a British translator living in Belgium. She translated Elisabeth Åsbrink’s 1947: When Now Begins, which was an English PEN award winner and a National Public Radio Best Book of the Year.

Praise For…

"To think that someone can write so poetically and beautifully about something that hurts so much . . . It is a staggering read, and we cry. Thanks to Elin Anna Labba, no one can turn a blind eye to the abuses committed by the Swedish state against the Sámi people. The suffering remains with many, but the truth has finally been told."—Ann-Helén Laestadius, best-selling author of Stolen


"The Rocks Will Echo Our Sorrow speaks through the forced displacement of the Sámi from their beloved homeland to make a gathering place of stories, images, joiks, and letters, singing the contours of Sámi resistance through time, through the forest, and through Indigenous sorrow."—Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies


"The Rocks Will Echo Our Sorrow, a book about the Sámi refusal to be wholly dispossessed, is a beautiful addition to the global Indigenous literary tradition. Elin Anna Labba tends to the poetry of everyday thought and reminiscence and, in so doing, offers up an idiom of land that is endlessly moving. A work of collective testimony, a remapping of Swedish history, an archive in and of itself, and, by its end, a vital rallying call."—Billy-Ray Belcourt, author of A Minor Chorus


"Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, several hundred members of Sámi reindeer-herding families were uprooted from their homelands in northern Sápmi and forced by the Norwegian and Swedish governments to relocate farther south in Sweden. A descendant of one of the families, Elin Anna Labba tells this wrenching, forgotten history with tender attention, using interviews, photos, and documents. A crucial contribution to Indigenous and Sámi history, The Rocks Will Echo Our Sorrow is heartbreaking, infuriating, and necessary reading."—Barbara Sjoholm, author of From Lapland to Sápmi: Collecting and Returning Sámi Craft and Culture


Product Details
ISBN: 9781517913304
ISBN-10: 1517913306
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press
Publication Date: April 23rd, 2024
Pages: 168
Language: English