Beneath the Ice

“A poetic voice of great sensitivity.” – Alexander McCall Smith.

For 20 years Kenneth Steven has explored the story of the Sami, the indigenous inhabitants of Arctic Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula (at one time commonly spoken of as the Lapps, they are now rightly known by their own ancient name). The first programme Kenneth made for BBC Radio some years back was on everyday life for different contemporary figures in the Sami community.

Now he has attempted to pull together all the strands of that cultural history in a book that charts the Sami journey from earliest times to the present day. It has been a story of wave after wave of persecution and forced integration; a campaign against the Sami tongue and way of life. The longest chapter in the book concerns the years of struggle over the Alta dam in Northern Norway, when the Sami fight for self-determination finally became recognised not only throughout Scandinavia but around the world.

The book was written close to Alta in the spring of 2014. Kristina Hayward travelled up to meet Kenneth and journey with him to spend Easter with Sami friends in the town of Karasjok, a predominantly Sami community deep in Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost county. Kristina and Kenneth then travelled over the border into Finland to explore the Finnish Sami story and the area around Lake Inari: it is Kristina’s images of those days over Easter that appear in the book. On their return to Scotland they then worked together on new research for additional chapters, and on the arranging and the editing of the text.