Fatomakke – Sami church town

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We drive along the country road in the western most part of Sweden called Vildmarksvågen it is a remote country road which is only open for a few months a year when it is possible to open it after the winter snow.

View across the lake to the country man cabin

One of the interesting places to visit along this road is the old church town of Fatomakke. The town was built so the local Sami and the Swedish settlers in this area could fulfill the requirement of going to church on certain religious holidays every year. They lived far away from the church so they needed a little temporary residence next to the church to stay when they were attending mass at the church.

This church town is very different from the famous one at Gammelstad near Luleå we had visited the day before. Back in Gammelstad the houses was classic Swedish red wooden houses – here in Fatomakke the majority of the buildings is looking more like a tent. But instead of using canvas they have built the small huts by using the birch wood which they could find in the forest around the area.

It is an interesting place to go and walk around to see the special huts the people used to live in. you might think that these huts is no longer in used because they have become obsolete not fulfilling the needs of modern people. This isn’t the case – the huts are actually still in use by the owners from time to time – and they are even building a new one. We can see the construction is slowly in progress but there is nobody around for the moment so we have no idea how long it will actually take to complete a hut.

The village has a special place in the Sami culture since this is where the Sami Association was formed in 1904 and it was also in this little village the first Sami newspaper was founded. The village has a house for the Sami Association which was built in 1927.

The village was also the place where the authorities would come occasionally so the people who had business with the authorities could go and do their official business. In 1791 a cabin was built for the priest. The original cabin had only one room for the priest but later another room was added to the cabin in the 1850s. The county man would stay in this room when he was in the village to serve the people of the area. They had to share the cabin until 1884 when the priest got a new cabin. After this the county man would continue to use the cabin until 1927.

The little church town is certainly one of the main highlights on a drive around Vildmarkvägen – even if you don’t want to go the hole distance of the road you can go into Fatomakke from Vilhelmina in about 1½ hour so it is a bit of a detour but doable as a side trip while driving on the main inland road.

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