Karoline Tveitnes Trollvik first got involved with Northern Norway’s Riddu Riddu festival as a volunteer at the tender age of 10. Now she’s poised to literally run the whole show, as director of what’s become one of the largest festivals for indigenous people in Northern Europe.
Founded in 1991 the festival takes place annually in Kåfjord in Nord-Troms, the municipality where Tveitnes Trollvik herself grew up. Last spring her youthful involvement was rewarded when she was named director of the entire festival, starting this fall. She’s getting some real on-the-job training as the popular festival swings into gear this week.
She’ll become the eighth female director of Riddu Riddu, which means “a small storm on the coast” in the Sami language. The 25-year-old is quick, however, to refute any hint of female managerial dominance.
“The festival hasn’t been dominated by women,” Tveitnes Trollvik told newspaper Aftenposten. “What’s cool about Riddu Riddu is that it’s based on a principle of fairness. There are just as many men involved in the organization as women. The current director, Kirsti Lervoll, wrote about the fact that while the women from coastal Sami communities are traditionally strong and independent, our cultural inheritance has been reliant on everyone’s efforts being equally valued.”
The international indigenous festival attracts around 3,000 people very year and while a symbol of the revitalization of Sami culture, it isn’t exclusively aimed at ethnic minorities. With a coastal Sami mother and a father from the west coast of southern Norway, Tveitnes Trollvik herself has dual ethnicity. Her commitment to the festival from a young age is a reflection of her passionate interest in her Sami ethnicity.
“It (Riddu Riddu) is an important festival where ethnic minorities can be openly proud of their identity,” she told Aftenposten. “The fact that there’s an arena to reflect this is something that I have been very keen on. This new position suits me perfectly since I have a unique interest in indigenous people and culture, which also forms an element of my master’s thesis”.
After completing her master’s degree in social anthropology at the University of Bergen, she’s returned home to Nord-Troms in preparation for her new appointment. She’ll be guided by current leader Kirsti Lervoll during this year’s summer festival, which opened on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. She told Aftenposten that there will an element of traveling involved in promoting the Riddu Riddu festival, something she “looks forward to already.”