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I Am Saami 


I always enjoy Barry Evans’ columns, but I would like to offer a few comments on his article, (“A Skin-Color Enigma,” Jan. 21):

First, the correct word is Saami, not “Lapp.” The term “Lapp” is considered derogatory.

Second, modern Saami people are no “darker-skinned” than the majority population in Norway, or Britain for that matter. However, the term “indigenous” rather than “white” would be more appropriate to describe the Saami people, who have lived above the arctic circle since time immemorial, and whose indigenous cultural traditions are thriving.

Third, we Saami share with our Inuit brothers and sisters the same long summer days of 24-hour sunlight and equally long winter days of 24-hour evening light. Yet our average skin shades are quite different. As to melanin and its importance to survival in the far north, who can say?

Finally, I would add that “whiteness” is a purely social construct, and has no meaning biologically. Perhaps, if Evans is trying to define the “we” in his first paragraph about his youth in England, a better social term would be “whitebread.” Otherwise, any number of “regular” voting citizens of the U.K. might be offended. As Tonto used to say, “what do you mean, “we”?

Ruthanne Cecil (a Saami-American), Arcata

Sweet Spot: Ruthanne Cecil wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.

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