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 the polar night and loneliness.
Later 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 accommodation. In Lemmenjoki area prospectors and others spent nights at the houses of Kaapin Jouni or Jomppanen – they were both 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.
Gold findings by the locals
What is characteristic of the gold findings of northern Lapland is the fact the locals have also found the gold-rich places. 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 Tankavaara gold after having 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 the 1930s, the extra income from gold prospecting was necessary. During the early days after Tankavaara gold prospecting, almost all Purnumukka villagers prospected gold, including chief Niila Hirvasvuopio.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were many gold companies trying their luck in the Lappish gold fields. They usually ended up failing partly because they underestimated the arctic conditions. However, local and other individual prospectors were able to use those gold mining places left behind in a much better way as they did not need as much resources and money as the companies. For many of those individuals, gold prospecting was just one add to their livelihood.
Kuvat: Kultamuseon arkistot.