Culture, Everyday life

I did an ancestry test and here is what I found

Some months ago I decided I was finally going to order myself one of those DNA kits I have been wanting, just for fun. It was on sale and I researched (by that, I mean one google search😄) to see what is the best company when it comes to privacy and storing of information, and I landed on FamilyTreeDNA. I am no (conspiracy) theorist who thinks they will use my tiny bit of saliva for anything sinister, but still, you never know. Although if they want to clone me or something, that would actually be very practical!

I have always been curious about anthropology, culture and history. I believe people are people no matter where we live or come from, all sharing the same basics in heart and mind, but these relative things like ethnicity and DNA can be quite interesting, too! There is so much to learn, and it’s fun to see the connections across borders.

I think it’s good to preserve culture and language, and although I feel Norwegian (despite it not being a single ethnicity at all😅), I also feel proud and honoured to carry on sámi handcraft traditions such as the gákti (kofta) and duodji and telling the stories attached to them and of Sápmi💙💚❤💛

I received my package, filled out the little form and swabbed my cheeks, one on each side. Next day, I shipped it off to overseas and waited for my results (which took some weeks).

Before getting them, I was pretty sure it would say mostly Scandinavian and some Asian (since the sámi peoples origins come from the East way back in the days, before settling in Sápmi (Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia). Perhaps some percentage viking too would be cool, like 26% shieldmaiden, lol..🙌 Bad joke.

I was a bit surprised to find that my origins are mostly (69%) from Finnoscandia (Finno-ugric), rather than Scandinavia, or more correctly part Kven, Norwegian Finns, which I learned after speaking with my mum. This was news to me, that we are Finnish Norwegian on my mother side.

23% Scandinavian, 1% unknown and the rest a quite small insignificant 7% East Asian. (All results in pictures on the bottom). I also learned that “Finland” in the DNA results also includes other uralic ethnicities such as sámi, which explains the precentage for me, knowing my father side are mostly coast/sea sámis from Loppa, Alta and other places in Finnmark as well as reindeer sámis from Kautokeino, and apparently some kven there too.

The Kven people are a minority group of people who migrated from Finland to the north of Norway, mostly to Finnmark before the borders between the Nordic countries were official. Kvens are considered an official minority in Norway.

Found this amazing restored wedding photograph of some of my ancestors from 1880, five generations ago in Álta, after going way back on the family tree. Typical surnames on my tree are Mella, Kitti, Turi, Nilsen, Hætta, Fors, Aslaksen and Isaksen. Caption that came with this picture:
“Sami wedding in Bossekop, Alta (1880). We see coastal Sami costumes, as well Kven clothings. A mixed ethnic wedding, I presume. Photo: Sommier/Mantegazza I believe these people are ancestors of many of today’s inhabitants of Alta. The true Alta-citizen is mostly descentants of Sami and Kven (Finnish languaged) people. The wedding couple are identified as Aslak Aslaksen and Guri Nilsdatter Mella from Rafsbotn.”
Kven man and sámi woman in Pasvik, Varanger where my mother side of family is from at the end of the 1800s.
List of some of the Finno-ugric peoples

I found it interesting how it says ‘Finland’ instead of ‘Finnish’, but after reading a bit about the other indigenous groups and how many there are considered to be Finno-ugric or Uralic (15 in total with subgroups), it makes more sense. Different indigenous peoples coming from roughly same area, but mainly sharing language is the case here. Sámi, kven (Norwegian finns – one of the subgroups) and Finns are for example grouped as Finno-Ugric and have similarities in language, and is as we know nothing like the other Scandinavian languages.

After doing the DNA test, I come to learn of haplogroups; basically “a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patriline or the matriline.”
My sweet grandmother (my mum’s mum) in Sør-Varanger 🙂

🌍

I have never learned any of the now existing 11 sámi languages, like most other sámis in my generation. (It is estimated only 15% of sámis speak one of the sámi languages, but luckily it is being revived). And obviously never any kven language either. But here are some facts about the kven language 🙂

-In 2005 it was officially considered a minority language in Norway.

-The University in Tromsø now gives classes in kven.

-From the 1930s until the 1980s, the kven language was illegal to speak and use in school, and was considered a “bastard language”. Despite this, it survived.

Toddler Monica in Finnmark 😄

Another cool thing about doing a test like this, is that you can match up with other relatives if you and they have agreed to be matched. I have found a lot of distant cousins, and have sent message to one of them, surprised to find out that she was adopted away from our family, and I am currently helping her find out who her dad was/is. Quite exciting stuff.

In addition, I learned through my family tree on MyHeritage that our family name Kitti, which is sámi, stopped being used 2 generations ago. I can only assume this was because of the norwegianization process taking place at this time. Our family name now is Nilsen.

Learning all this about my Finnish/Kven ancestry, I instantly felt more inclined to buy more Moomin stuff, which I believe now is my cultural heritage 😅

Video: origins of Finns, Hugarians and other Uralians

Video: Eurasian genetics

Øksfjord, Loppa municipality where my father side is from. Photo by Hilde Bye.

Another cool thing I found was that two of my relatives, Isak Mikkelsen Tornensis and Berit Mikkelsdatter Tornensis (siblings), in 1898 was part of the reindeer project in Alaska.
Read more about it here and here.