NASELLE — After being under Swedish rule from 1150-1809, and being a Grand Duchy of Russian from 1809 to 1917, Finland finally gained its independence on Dec. 6, 1917. To celebrate its 100th year anniversary Finland 100 was formed. Activities involving Finnish culture will occur all over Finland, Canada, and the United States all year long. These include concerts, lectures, cooking classes, films, even a traveling sauna. Local events will happen on both sides of the Lower Columbia as well as in Portland and Seattle.
The Appelo Archives Center has set up a special display that will be up all of 2017. It is housed in a display case donated by Messiah Lutheran Church of Portland. The items being displayed were donated by Donald Klebe of Walla Walla. His brother-in-law served during the Winter War in Finland. Some of the items include spurs he wore during that war, his service medals, and his certificates signed by General Mannerheim.
The Appelo Archives Center is located at 1056 SR4 two miles east of the schools in Naselle. It is open Tuesdays-Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The first special local event is the showing of the film Under the North Star at the Appelo Archives Center. It will be on Saturday, Jan. 21, starting at 10:30 a.m.
“To understand Finland and the Finns one needs only read one book: ‘Under the North Star,’ by Väinö Linna,” said Esko Aho. This historical trilogy, written in Finnish 1959-1962, was translated into English by Richard Impola in 2001. The trilogy has been considered the most significant novel published in Finland between 1917 and 1997. It won the Nordic Prize for Literature in 1965.
In 2009, a new film-adaption was produced in Finland. The screenplay is written by Timo Koivusalo. He also directs the film. Stars are Ilkka Koivula, Vera Kiiskinen, and Risto Tuorila. It was nominated for five Jussi (equivalent of Oscars) awards the following year: Best Film, two Supporting Actors (Heikki Nousianinen, Esko Roine), Best Supporting Actress (Miia Selin), and Costume Design (Leila Jäntti).
Part one covers the years 1884-1907. ”In the beginning there were the swamp, the hoe — and Jussi.” Jussi Koskela is a tenant farmer on the parsonage estate in the rural village of Pentti’s Corner in south central Finland. He lives there with his wife and three sons struggling to turn wilderness swampland into productive land. At this same time, Finland is becoming more secularized, socialist thought is becoming more popular, and the labor movement is gaining momentum. National newspapers such as Suometar, The Worker (Työmies), and the People’s Journal (Kansan Lehti) are gaining readership. The Russian czar, meanwhile, is attempting to curb the Finns’ “nation building.” Tension increases between tenants and landowners. Jussi’s son, Akseli, becomes an active socialist. In addition, the upper classes are upset with language strife and their homeland’s relationship with Russia.
There is no admission charge, but donations of $5 are recommended. The film is 193 minutes, is in Finnish with English subtitles. It is not recommended for children due to sex and nudity, violence and gore, frightening/intense scenes, profanity, and alcohol/drugs/smoking.
Part II of the film will be shown at the Appelo Archives Center on the following Saturday, Jan. 28, at 10:30 a.m. Part II of the film covers the third book of the trilogy. “The Reconciliation” deals with the aftermath of the Civil War in Finland, the Lapua movement of 1929-1932, the depression in the 1930s, the Winter War of 1939-1940, the Continuation War of 1941-1944, and finally the calm of the post-World War II years. It includes the history of the Koskela family in these events.
For more information on Finland 100 events, check out the websites for Appelo Archives Center, the Finnish American Folk Festival of Naselle, Columbia Pacific Chapter Finlandia Foundation, Nordic House, and the Nordic Hertiage Museum.