Niiles-Jouni Aikio

The Sámi reinder herder and yoik singer Niiles-Jouni was born in 1947 in a chimneyless smoke sauna at Lemmenjoki in Inari. Through his father Uula and his grandfather Kaapin Jouni, the family traces its descent from the renowned Aikio family of reindeer herders of Inari and Utsjoki in Lapland. Niiles-Jouni's mother Inga was the granddaughter of the legendary Salkko Niila. This family originally came from Norway.

In the early 1950s the family migrated regularly with their rendeer from Lemmenjoki to Ivalon-Matti on the Ivalonjoki River, where Niiles-Jouni still keeps his reindeer. From Ivalon-Matti, Niiles-Jouni has travelled, when the herding has permitted, to perform in various parts of the world. He has been singing his yoiks in Tokyo, Osaka, Milan, Moscow and many other places.

In 1973, Niiles-Jouni appeared in Rauni Mollberg's renowned film "The Earth is a Sinful Song", playing in the lead character of Oula Nahkamaa, a Sámi reindeer herder.

Niiles-Jouni has also composed, adapted and written the lyrics of several yoiks for other performers. The unique Sámi yoik has gradually spread to all parts of the world.

Together with his partner Anne and his son Ante, Niiles-Jouni has introduced both Finnish and foreign visitors to the Sámi way of life. Growing popularity led Niiles-Jouni to open Saamen Kammi, a restaurant serving traditional Sámi food, in Feburary 2005 at Levi in Kittilä.

The larders of the Sámi have always contained the offerings of the forest, land and waters. The reindeer have given the Sámi, and other indigenous people of the north, most of what they need.