The Church, Pietist Mission and The Sámi. - An Account of a Northern Norwegian Mission District in the Early Eighteenth Century.
The indigenous religion of the Sámi population came under strong pressure through the Pietist mission effort, which occurred during the first decades of the 18th century in Denmark-Norway. This study focuses on the complex religious situation in the areas of the Northern Norwegian counties of Nordland and Troms. The study uses a spatial approach to map the positions of the different institutions and participants: The Church, the missionary efforts, and perceptions of indigenous spirituality. I am investigating this complex religious situation by reconstructing the social network that formed its backbone, using a biographical perspective and life stories to reveal the actors’ careers and interests, and by focusing on local knowledge. Religious objects such as the drum, hammers, and sculptures of Sami ‘deities’ made of tree or stone, traces as stones, mountains were seen as ‘tools’ to conduct religious practice at many sites in the far North. This is still visible in local place-names. In the sources, these place names were seen as obstructions to the new Christian [MG1] perspective. The hammer, drum, and the symbols or religious iconography painted on the drum leather offer a good overview over Sámi society and the world of their deities. While there are few extant Sámi religious objects from which we can draw information about Sámi indigenous spirituality, we can analyze the missionary and churchrelated documents that discuss them. Through the process of reconstructing those social networks and tracing the communication between institutions and the positions and interests of the missionaries, the sources give indirect information about a complex situation.