November 28, 2001

 Nils-Alsak Valkeapää, Ailu, renowned Sami writer, artist and yoik

performer, died in Espoo (Helsinki) on November 26, 2001 after having

returned from a cultural sojourn in Japan. He was 58. Since the 1960s,

when he began to revive and promote the performance of yoik, Ailu had

become the cultural representative of Sami within Sapmi in northernmost

Europe and internationally throughout the Arctic and other continents.

He was present, among other international indigenous events, at the

founding meeting of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Barrow in 1977.

He was the voice of indigenous peoples globally. He was honored with

many awards for his artistic works among them the Nordic Council

Literature Prize in 1991, and he designed and performed the opening

ceremony at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammar in 1994, an impressive

display of integrity and identity which was carried world-wide.

In his humbleness, overcoming in his last few years a life-threatening

car accident in 1996, he touched many people and peoples through his

multifaceted artistic interpretations of human-environmental relations.

His spirit and voice will be with us in the future.

 Ludger M|ller-Wille, McGill University, Montreal, Canada