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Áile Aikio

Áile Ingá Aikio
Born June 8,1979, Utsjoki

Master of Arts (ethnography), 2012, University of Helsinki

Amanuensis, 2005- (leave of absence autumn 2013-), Sámi museum Siida
Journalist, 2013–15, Yle Sápmi

Photo: A. Aikio
Written by Áile Aikio and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

In a Sámi museum

I began studying at the University in 1998 with archaeology as my main subject. I studied archaeology for several years but switched to ethnology before graduating. I have studied folkloristics, anthropology and classical archaeology as subsidiary subjects.

Throughout my time as an undergraduate, my goal was to find a place in the field of museology, working with the cultural heritage of the Sámi peoples, and it was around these two poles that I built my study plan. For the museum sector, I followed conventional wisdom about what was involved, and wherever I could I combined it with a focus on Sámi culture and materials. Immediately after I graduated I got a dream job, amanuensis for the Siida Sámi museum, responsible for the photographic and artifact collections and the archives.

Besides the collections, my post included responsibility for the outdoor museum of the Sámi museum and the educational programme offered by the museum. I was also active in the curating work, for example producing the texts for collection-based exhibitions on such themes as the Lappish sled used in reindeer herding and Sámi women’s headgear.

Alongside my work I developed my professional competence by following a basic course in Kolt Sámi, as well as completing a module in museology and theoretical studies in Sámi handicrafts or duodji.

In my curating work I was able to combine Western ideas about museum curation and Sámi culture. I soon realised however that this approach wasn’t without difficulties. Bringing together the different norms and practices of these two worlds has proved very challenging for a Sámi employee. I’ve found myself caught between two sets of demands. On the one hand my work has been dictated by the regulations for international museology – how museums and their holdings should be managed. On the other hand, as a Sámi myself, I can’t ignore the Sámi community’s norms and disrespect the Sámi cultural values and world view.

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