Jokkmokk and Ájtte – a Sámi Town and Museum

Arriving in Jokkmokk felt a bit like entering a ghost town.

Ájtte, Jokkmokk. Traditional home

Jokkmokk (pronounced ‘Yokkmokk’) lies just 7km inside the Arctic Circle in the far north of Sweden and is one of the main centres for the indigenous Sámi population.

I’d met a few Sámi people and seen some of their villages whilst I was walking the Kungsleden. When I left the path, Jokkmokk was the first place I headed to. I planned to stay overnight to give me plenty of time to visit the Sámi museum as well as have a look round the town.

Arriving at the bus station, I hoisted my backpack and headed straight down the main road to the museum.

The main road was very wide and very quiet.

Jokkmokk Jokkmokk

2,786 people live in Jokkmokk, but I guess most of them were out of town the day I was there. Many of the Sámi spend time in the mountains with their reindeer during the summer and only move into the towns during the winter months, so maybe they really were all out of town.

The museum – called Ájtte – was quite large and rather spacious with a good bookshop and a restaurant selling tradtional food. As this was heavily meat based (reindeer), I settled for coffee and cake.

The museum itself, was quite informative and had some good exhibits, but there wasn’t as much to see as I’d expected.

Ájtte, JokkmokkI liked this mural on the wall near the entrance. It’s a modern day work of art, but is based on the rock paintings from thousands of years ago that can still be seen today in some places.

Ájtte, Jokkmokk

There was a replica traditional home inside the museum as well as several different examples in the grounds outside.

Ájtte, Jokkmokk

Ájtte, Jokkmokk. Traditional home Ájtte, Jokkmokk Ájtte, Jokkmokk. Traditional home Ájtte, Jokkmokk. Traditional home

There were also examples of traditional costume. The colours decorating the costume all have meaning, as do the patterns. A person can tell where another comes from by looking at their costume.

Ájtte, Jokkmokk. Sami costumes Ájtte, Jokkmokk. Male costume

This man was wearing a bird on his head.

Ájtte, Jokkmokk. Male costume

This tilted globe shows the Arctic. I found myself feeling quite disoriented as I tried to pick out the different countries from this angle.

Ájtte, Jokkmokk

Leaving the museum, I had a look in the church which seemed very white.

Jokkmokk church

The inside was beautiful and there was a wood planted in the grounds around the church.

Jokkmokk church Jokkmokk church Jokkmokk church Jokkmokk churchJokkmokk

I had planned on walking a little way out of town and camping, but after a visit to the tourist office to use the free internet and find out about onward trains and buses, I had a change of heart and decided I wanted a bit of luxury.

So instead I checked into the very homely youth hostel.

Jokkmokk hostel

The town was still just as quiet when I came to leave. This is what should have been rush hour at the bus station. About 5pm on a Friday evening!

Jokkmokk bus station

 

Author: Anne

Join me in my journey to live a life less boring, one challenge at a time. Author of the forthcoming book 'Walking the Kungsleden: One Woman's Solo Wander Through the Swedish Arctic'.

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