From July 10-14, 2019, Nunavummuit took centre stage as the Riddu Riđđu: Sami Music and Culture Festival’s “Northern People of the Year.” The 2019 edition of the annual festival, held in the community of Manndalen, Norway, boasted an impressive roster of Inuit creatives—from musicians to filmmakers—with an emphasis on Katajjaq (throat singing) and drum dancing.
Acclaimed author and throat singer Tanya Tagaq gave both a performance as well as a reading from her debut novel Split Tooth, while the ensemble Arctic Song from Qaggiavut! delivered an equally impactful performance. Hip-hop trio Silla and Rise, comprised of Cynthia Pitsiulak, Charlotte Qamaniq and Rise Ashen, closed the festival with an afterparty performance at Club Lávvu with their unique sound blends the traditional with contemporary dancefloor beats.
This year’s commissioned concert was a collaboration between Tagaq, celebrated singer-songwriter Buffy St. Marie and Swedish-Sami artist and activist Maxida Märak. “The commissioned concert will focus on indigenous common struggles,” explained Festival Manager Sandra Márjá West, “for the right to exist and the struggle for recognition of our history, based on these three different generations.”
In addition to music and literature, circumpolar film was highlighted throughout the festival. Directors and Inuit Art Quarterly contributors Priscilla Naungagiaq Hensely and asinnajaq screened their most recent films, WE UP: Indigenous Hip-Hop of the Circumpolar North (2018) and Three Thousand (2017) respectively, in the short film program. Additional shorts include animated works by Iqaluit-based Taqqut Productions.
Surrounding events included drum dancing lessons with Inuit Art Foundation President Mathew Nuqingaq, Katajjaq workshops and a ceremonial qulliq lighting led by lawyer and activist Aaju Peter, among many other presentations that highlighted the breadth of Nunavut's culture.
Though much of the programming celebrated Nunavummiut, artists from Sápmi, Alaska, Tuva and Greenland also participated in events, performances and activities throughout the festival.