Monday, January 06, 2014

The Gállok Rebellion. The Sámi People vs. Grendel

The Cast: The Sámi people are the indigenous people (Finno-Ugric) who live in the Arctic area of Sápmi in Scandinavia. Perhaps you've seen them in film documentaries about their semi-nomadic life, herding reindeer. The police who are defending colonization, mineral extraction and the corporations. The reindeer, trees, plants, flowers, insects. wind, water and soil are also supporting characters in this true life drama.

The Plot: A big corporation (i.e. a group of men) who call themselves "Beowullf" is bent on extracting iron ore from pristine wilderness, destroying everything in their path with "eyes on the prize." Beowulf's extraction of the iron ore means profit in the transnational corporate pocket, money for the government officials who write laws and policies, and salaries for the police who act in robotic fashion for the corporation against the people. The extraction of the ore means money in the pockets of a few - and the destruction of migratory reindeer, other sentient beings, the sacred trees, plants, flowers, water, wind, rain, soil and the Sámi who co-habit in a symbiotic relationship with the others. The enlightened Sámi eschew violence but defend themselves and their brethren flora and fauna by other means. The police use every method available, including violence to defeat the Sámi and open the road (literally) for the corporation to rape the land.

For Us To Learn: In this drama, the Sámi are the real heroes in Sweden and they are unrelenting. When all they've built to defend the land is destroyed, they simply, steadfastly build their bulwarks again to stop "Beowulf." As with the indigenous around the world, we have so much to learn from them. The police are the tragic figures in this story, working hard to pave the way for a foreign corporation to rob a natural resource and to destroy the people and their natural home.

Beowulf and Grendel: It may be that the men who named their corporation "Beowulf" have never read nor ever really grasped the message of this oldest known piece of Anglo-Saxon literature. If they wanted to borrow from the 7th century epic poem they would have more accurately called themselves, "Grendel." The Sámi people are a reincarnation of Beowulf, the hero of the Geats who came to the aid of Hroðgar, king of the Danes, to kill the destroyer-monster Grendel with his bare hands and later Grendel's mother with a sword found in her lair.  Grendel lives today in the form of the capitalist system and the corporations and persons who serve it. Likewise, the Beowulf-Sámi are exemplary, attacking Grendel with their bare hands - the indigenous leading the way and we must follow in their path if we want to save the earth and ourselves.  It's been my practice to read Beowulf annually for the past 40 years and a poem emerged from one of those readings ten years ago.


Grendel haunts the cellar way
pausing on a lower stair
adumbrations thick and damp
rumbling from his ancient lair

“There a secret humid harbor,
dripping, lingering decay”,
senses with his eyelids low
but for hunger, he would stay.

High above the sunken moors
riders leave their shield and hoof
led by a gaze set like a vice
on the jaws of Beowulf.

- By Les Blough
February 2003

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