MOUNTAIN LIFE - Coast Mountains | Winter Spring 2017 - page 77

words :: Lisa Richardson
“I need to do this ancestor test,” Anna Lengstrand says. “You can do a
DNA swab and see howmuch you are of what. I have a feeling I have way
more Sami inme than you can account for by saying, I’m one quarter,
throughmy grandpa, I just feel very connected to him.”
Anna’s grandfather grew up in northern Sweden, the youngest of seven
children, nomads, living off the land, until he was 25. The Sami are the
indigenous reindeer-herding people of the Arctic Circle who once roamed
freely where Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia now stitch up borders,
log the forests, claim nationhood.
As an artist, Lengstrand is weaving a bridge back to her roots from her
newly acquired Pemberton ranch, where her twoAmerican Paint horses
stand nose to nose in a salt shed roofed stable, beneath the Mount Currie
massif. Her grandfather’s portrait sits on the fireplace mantel. He’s a
youngman in the photo but now, even at 94, Lengstrand describes him as
“fierce, super-duper strong,” someone who, until a heart attack two years
ago slowed him down a notch, would clear all the snow from the roof of
his house then jump down into the pile.
Lengstrand explains that after the SecondWorldWar, as Sweden
embraced industrialization, the Sami were slowly regulated into the
margins. She learned nothing of the Sami people in school while her
grandfather’s family kept quiet about their identity. “They were not really
allowed to talk about where they came from,” she explains, “because it
was frowned upon to be native.”
Lengstrand lived in her grandparents’ cottage in the mountains of
Northern Sweden after finishing her master’s degree. After a stint in New
Zealand with loose plans to work in nutrition and food chemistry,
AnnaandTanner thehorse, at home inPemberton. MITCHWINTON
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