Locals in gold history

Local people have been involved in Lappish gold history since the beginning. Some of them were prospectors themselves or were helping the officers. Many others provided groceries and other supplies in addition to local shops. During the later and silent decades of Kultala Crown Station, a local person Sammeli Saijets worked as the last guardian during winter season. He was not afraid of polar night and loneliness.

Later on in gold history, locals have offered transportation services to gold fields. One example of this is hauling supplies with many reindeer and sleds to Morgam (Lemmenjoki area) or Ritakoski (Ivalojoki area) bases. Due to long distances in northern Lapland, people traveling to gold fields often needed some kind of accommodation. In Lemmenjoki area prospectors and others spent overnight at the houses of Kaapin Jouni or Jomppanen – they both were local Sami people. Prospectors also bought supplies from the houses in case it was possible at the time they were passing by. Still today, there are local accommodation and boat transportation services at Njurgulahti, which is one of the starting points when going to Lemmenjoki gold fields.

Characteristic to gold findings of northern Lapland is the fact the locals have also found the gold. The best known examples of this are Tankavaara and Lemmenjoki findings where knowledge of local area has been useful, too. A Sami man called Crutch-Aslak found Tanakvaara gold after seeing a vivid dream and Sami brothers Ranttila found the Lemmenjoki gold. Though locals often found the gold, prospecting was just one livelihood among others and not full-time. Especially during hard times or times of depression, like in case of Tankavaara in 1930s, the extra income from gold prospecting was necessary. During early days after Tankavaara gold finding almost all of Purnumukka villagers prospected gold, including chief Niilo Hirvasvuopio.

In the beginning of 20th century there were many gold companies trying their luck in Lappish gold fields. They usually ended up unlucky partly because underestimating the arctic conditions at high north. However, local and other individual prospector were able to use those gold ore places left behind in much better manner as they did not need so much resources and money as the companies. And for many of those individuals, gold prospecting was just one add to livelihood. Photos: Archives of Gold Prospector Museum