A day of strange and rather sad emotions began with…

Uploaded by  on Aug 22, 2007

Music video for the song “NORMO JOVNNA”
by the band AIGI
Directed by Benedicte Maria Orvung
Produced by Orvung film A/S (c)
webpage: www.myspace.com/aigitheband

I love this song. I really do. I’ve posted it on my Facebook wall about a bazillion times… under a different name.

This version of it, though, I had never encountered before this morning.

Sacred Spirit's album covers.You see, for ages now, years, even, I have believed that this song is a piece of sacred Native American traditional music called Ly O Lay Ale Loya. A chant, as it were.

It’s not.

I have also believed that this song is sung in a Native American language.

It’s not.

It’s sung in Samisk, the language of the Saami. Samisk is spoken by the Saami in their native Northern Europe – Finland, Norway, Sweden and northwestern Russia.

I learned of this situation via some comments on YouTube videos which I had never noticed before. They led to much information that confirms the above.

I will put in this snippet from the Wikipedia page on Sacred Spirit, the German music industry publishing group that is largely responsible (along with Dutch Channel 4 and Virgin Records) for starting this disturbing mess:


In the first album, the song “The Counterclockwise Circle Dance” is presented as a native American chant, however the main vocals are an authentic Sami yoik (“Normo Jovnna” by Terje Tretnes), recorded in 1994 by Dutch Channel 4 during an interview as an example of a yoik. The recording, despite Channel 4’s denial of having sold it, then mysteriously ended up in a Virgin Records studio in Holland. The Sami organisation Sámi kopiija have demanded royalties from Virgin Records but this has so far been unsuccessful. (NRK Sami Radio 21.12.2007)

Surprisingly, as it is after all Wikipedia, the page that the above quote is on seems to be pretty reliable.

There is an article on the controversy at the Norwegian NRK site, but sadly Google doesn’t seem to be able to translate the Saami language. You can kind of get the gist of it through the layout, however.

A Sami family in Norway around 1900 (via Wikipedia)If you go to the the Sami page in the snippet, you will see that although they are on the other side of the world, they do actually resemble the indigenous peoples of the Americas in appearance and apparent lifestyle, at least back in the day… teepees and all. But that does not in any way justify confusion of the sort required for this rather successful rip off.

This upsets me. To me, it is fraud. If they knew about it, that is. Did the principals of Sacred Spirit,  Claus Zundel, Ralf Hamm and Markus Staab, know that this was not in any way a Native American song? I have my opinion, which I am sure they wouldn’t like, but it is not within my powers to know for sure. It is nice that they give a portion of their monies to the Native Americans, I will never be against that as I love them dearly, but I think that the Saamis should get their share, as the song in this thread is perhaps the most popular of all of the songs on the album… an album which has sold over 7 million copies and it is all over YouTube in many variations all of which portray it as a Native American tune with some lovingly created slideshows.

The relevant page on this subject at Virgin no longer exists and merely gets you a 404.  I used to like Virgin. But the years have taught me not to. This Zundel guy may possibly not have known, just to give him the benefit of the doubt for the sake of this thread… but Virgin? Pfft. Right. And obviously Dutch Channel 4 knew, having recorded it. But having said that I also note no acknowledgement or apology or explanation or mention of any kind on any aspect of it in the Sacred Spirit site. Don’t like them now. Don’t like Dutch Channel 4 either. I just think it all went down in a bad way, just like it has been portrayed to have gone down.. All media are scum. All of them. Everywhere. Always have been and probably always will be.

It’s all so tediously annoying, being misled.

In any event, it is, in the end a beautiful piece of music… in all of its versions.

Ah well. I hope it is finally put right, but have no faith that it ever will be.


  1. Veronica Lawson says:

    I absolutely agree with you. It makes me ill that there could be so much misrepresentation and abuse. I live next to the Ute Reservation in Utah. I love their culture and have written a novel (fiction) about them. I wanted to use Normo Jovnna (original “ripped off”) version. Terje Tretnes, along with the drums, absolutely reached my soul and I frequently played the music while I wrote my manuscript. I thought it would be so cool to use the song on my book’s website. However, when I realized what had happened regarding the European Natives, I gave up on the idea. So sad…

    • iggymak says:

      Hi, Veronica, thank you for writing! It really is a wonderful song and it certainly does do something nice to my mind, too… so sorry you had to find out the hard way about the misrepresentation of it’s origins. Sad, indeed… but… hey, we still have this song to soothe us. And we can learn of yet another fabulous old culture now, too. That’s good, right? Hope you find a couple of nice Ute songs for your site. :) Peace!

  2. Andreas says:

    thumbs up.

  3. johnny m sara says:

    Normo Jovnna luohti is a quite famous and beautiful traditional joik among us Sámi peoples. There are sadly also other traditional joiks “stolen” by the music industry, but this Normo Jovnna is the worst case in my opinion. Why? It’s because the misleading info, making people believe its a native American tribe chant.

  4. […] I posted about it over at WATT. […]

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