Signe Danielsen - a strength and

patience of a mountain

She was born in 1895 and was sustained by the mountain up until the mid-1900s. She was only 140 centimetres tall, but stood firmly on the alpine heaths in Femundsmarka. Signe Danielsen herded reindeer on her own for months, cut timber, snared ptarmigan, fished and picked berries.

Her third son was born in the snow, where she remained with him for more than an hour. She had knocked on the door of a family who didn’t want to let her in because she was Sami. Later they became friends, but she never mentioned the subject, since she and the boy were both fine.

She went through the ice and came home “like a deep-frozen fish” but was otherwise not sick a single day of her life. Once, a wolf jumped straight over her head. But that was not worth talking about; her life was no different from that of other Sami women, she believed.

For a while, Signe and her husband Elias toured Europe with a circus and were shown as the “Sami family”, but the longing for the mountain became too strong. Despite the fact that the family lacked food and a roof over their heads, she had never wanted a different existence, said 80-year-old Signe looking back on her life.

Reading tip

Melien, Hans. 1975: Viddas mor. Signe Danielsen fra Elgå. Grøndal & søn. Oslo.