Uula Morottaja and T.I. Itkonen at a house at Talvitupalompolo. Photographer Frans Äimä. Siida, Matti Valle's archives.



The first representative of the Church who learned Inari Sámi was Assistant Vicar of Inari and later Vicar of Inari-Utsjoki, was Edvard Wilhelm Borg. His informant was Jormo-Hendrih (Heikki Mattus, 1838 – 1926), who taught him Inari Sámi, though the teaching was two-sided because E.W. Borg taught Heikki Mattus Finnish. Thus Heikki Mattus wrote in 1887, which appeared in the book “Inarinlappalaista kansantietoutta” (Inari Lappish Folklore) in T.I. Itkonen’s writing style. In any case, this is in his own, original style:

“When I was twelve years old, and had not yet been to confirmation class, a priest whose name was W.E. Borg came. He took me in, taught me confirmation class and nurtured me during class, because I was completely ignorant. Next summer, he took me in again and taught me to read and write Finnish better and to learn the numbers too and kept me there until I learned so much that he put me in charge in 1865 of teaching the second catechism to children in Inari. This priest was like a foster father to me as long as he was in Lapland. Neither will I ever forget him. He would have also taken me with him to the south, but when he got married a little before he left for the south, I stayed in Inari and together with my wife we’ve lived well.”

This is what Ritva Kangasniemi and Petra Kuuva wrote in the text of a language course examination quoted in the journal Anarâš in 2003 (translation and summery by Ilmari Mattus):

Heikki Sammelinpoika Mattus was born in September 10,1838, to his poor parents in the village of Paatar in the Jurmu home. There were 7 children in the family. They ate mostly bark soup and in the evening their mother always read evening prayers and “Our Father” to her children as well as the consecration to the Lord. In 1856 Vicar E.W. Borg turned his attention to the gifted 18 year old Heikki. He became a catechist in 1858 but did not begin work in this position until 1864. He also worked as a prisoners’ escort 1868-1871. Heikki Mattus was chosen as parish clerk in 1871, and was appointed to the first and only official position as catechist in 1883. He gave up his job as catechist to Matti Lehtola in 1893. Heikki Mattus was involved in the signing of the founding constitution of the Inari Municipal Government in 1876, was a vice member of the municipal board from 1894-1899 and belonged to the first board of the Inari Primary School. He was himself among the first students in the new Primary School. Heikki Mattus married Anna Aikio (1843-1910) and they had seven children, four of which died, and of the remaining three, one was deaf. Heikki lived a happy life with his family in the hamlet of Juutua. Not many of his stories are known. Six have been found, two of which were animal stories; three were tales of the life of the Sámis and one of them tell of his own life.”

Heikki Mattus also had a beautiful and high singing voice for which he was famous. He led songs of praise in the church up until two years before his death. He died May 6,1926, and is buried in the Inari cemetary.

Kove: Museovirasto

Jormo Hendrih, Heikki Mattus was the first Inari Sámi cantor and catechist.










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