National Geographic : 1954 Aug
North With Finland's Lapps far south in Karelia. When the Russians seized Karelia in 1945, nearly half a million Finns were given a choice: they could stay under Russian rule, or they could seek new homes and new lives in free Finland. "Not a Finn remained in Karelia," an offi cial told us in Helsinki. "More than 477,000 left their homes. They were taken in by the rest of the country, given land, and everyone was taxed to help make up for their losses. "Many of them are living in the forests of western Finland: others have homesteaded in Lapland. But they're free, and that's what counts." The river was still too low to clear the rapids downstream, and we waited a few days, hoping for a rise. We spent the time with Lapp fishermen, troll ing for salmon which grow to 60 pounds in the frigid waters. Our luck was bad, but we made good friends and each day grew fonder of the carefree Lapps. One of Niva's neighbors was Antti Paltto, an active little man who fished long hours each day despite his 78 years (page 259). Vis iting with him one day, I asked him if he had any children. "Not yet," came the an swer. And there was Kirsti Utsi, a wonderful old lady in her seventies, even smaller than Kaapin Jouni, who trudged by one day with a long pair of skis over her shoulder and ex plained that she had bor rowed them from a friend last winter and was walk ing 30 miles to return them. When she found that we were Americans, she jok ingly insisted that we take her home with us. "You could put me in your pocket," she quipped. A remarkable Lapp was Jounni Guttorm, who worked for the Finnish Cus- and in Finland, toms at Karigasniemi and was spending his va cation with his family on the Teno (page 267). Jounni joined the Finnish Army in 1939 as a boy of 16. He spoke only the mountain Lapp dialect. In the army he learned Finnish and was taught to read and write. Then, in 1942, he was wounded. His body was so badly shattered that he was forced to spend two years in hospitals. "I couldn't lie idle," he told us, "so I stud ied languages. First I learned Swedish. Then I learned German; English next. Now I'm studying French." A War Hero Leads His People Toward a Better Life Disabled by wounds while fighting the Russians, Erkki Jumppinen studied in the hospital and, when peace came, opened a store in his native Menesjarvi. Lapps come from 50 miles around to sell reindeer and buy salt, tobacco, and coffee. His radio, only one in the village, furnishes news bulletins for the entire populace (page 264). Many of the north people paint as a hobby; portrait on the wall is the work of Mrs. Jumppinen.