Historical pictures – The Sennalandet chapel (Áisaroaivi Sami church)

Sennalandet-Kapell, Áisaroaivi Sami Kirke, Sennalandet-Kapelle, Áisaroaivi Sami Kirche | © John Ole Nilsen, Varanger Samiske Museum

We repeatedly come across historical images during our research. We are curious about what and who is hiding behind this picture. Today we tell the story of a small church in the middle of nowhere.

Historical pictures – The Sennalandet chapel (Áisaroaivi Sami church)

Our cover picture shows parked cars in front of the Sennalandet chapel (Áisaroaivi Sami church) on the Sennalandet plateau in western Finnmark in northern Norway. Presumably the visitors were here for the service. The photographer captured the picture on Sunday, July 10, 1966. Since 1962 it has been located in the Kvalsund municipality, which has been merged with Hammerfest since 01.01.2020. In the Sami language, the small mountain chapel is also called Duoddar Sion.

The Sennalandet Chapel (Áisaroaivi Sami Church) initially served as part of a barracks in Kautokeino during the German occupation in World War II and was then used as a provisional church until 1958.

But then it was dismantled and brought to Sennalandet to be rebuilt. In 1971 the Sennalandet Chapel (Áisaroaivi Sami Church) was extensively restored. This simple and beautiful Sennalandet chapel (Áisaroaivi Sami church) belongs to the parish of Hammerfest.

The photographer John Ole Nilsen

The photo of the Sennalandet Chapel (Áisaroaivi Sami Church) was taken by John Ole Nilsen (1914-1998). John Ole Nilsen was at Fuoiknjárga / Bunes in the municipality of Unjárgga gielda / Nesseby. From 1960 to 1992, John Ole Nilsen was the editor of the Sami-language newspaper Nuorttanaste.

Nuorttanaste is a Sami newspaper with a Christian content, but also communicates other aspects of the Sami community. The newspaper was founded in 1898 and is the oldest Sami newspaper. It will be released today. Because of its long history and the fact that it is the first Sami-language newspaper, it has a special position in the Sami community.

During his 30 years as an editor, John Ole Nilsen traveled through Sápmi and collected material both in connection with his work in the newspaper and in his spare time. This resulted in large archive material consisting mainly of paper archives, audio recordings and a large photo collection.

The main theme of the archive is Sami church life – Nilsen has documented many different Christian events related to his career in Nuorttanaste. Nilsen also took over the existing archive of the former publisher in Nuorttanaste, so that the time span in the archive extends from the early 1940s to the mid-1990s. A small part of the material comes from before the Second World War.

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