Biejjen nieide (south Sámi), “The Sun’s daughter”, is an old legend which is known in various forms in several Sámi areas of Sweden. Here is a concise version:

In the beginning there was happiness and harmony. All the springs flowed with milk and the rivers were full of food. These golden days of old were interrupted by chaos when people began to murder each other. Order only returned to the world when Njavvis and Attjis joined themselves with their wives with sacred vows – or in other words introduced marriage. Their wives were Njavvis-ene (Njavvis’ wife) who came from the Sun Children (perceived as good) and Attjis-ene (Attjis’ wife) who came from the Moon Children (perceived as evil or bad).

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Njavvis and Attjis were murdered. Njavvis-ene and Attjis-ene were both pregnant. The fable tells how the two widows became the original reindeer herders. Instead of following the fishermen and hunters, they stayed by the trees, where they tied up the reindeer the men had hunted, hunted ptarmigan, captured reindeer which had fallen into the hunters’ pits and kept the reindeer calves which had not managed to follow their mothers across the swollen river in springtime. This was how Njavvis-ene and Attjis-ene tamed the reindeer.

Njavvis-en e and Attjis-ene each had a child, one a son and the other a daughter. To begin with the two widows kept their reindeer herds together, but when Njavvis-ene’s son grew big enough to help, Attjis-ene tricked her into exchanging him with her daughter. Attjis-ene separated her herd from Njavvis-ene’s and boasted that she would become much richer than her because now she had a strong boy to help her.

Then one spring a great flood came. Njavvis-ene couldn’t get across the river, but her reindeer had already crossed to the summer pastures. She and her daughter were starving. The son knew that his childhood companion was suffering, so he took a piece of meat and lowered it through the smoke hole in their turf hut. Njavvis-ene saw him and told him that he was her son. When he found out that he had been stolen by Attjis-ene as a child, he went back and killed her. At the moment of her death, Attjis-ene’s reindeer were transformed into other animals. Some of them became toads and frogs, which is why it has always been the custom to leave these animals in peace.

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The people multiplied and there was not enough meat for all. Luckily the Heavenly Father had hidden the milk-filled springs from the time of happiness and now he took the milk and put it in the reindeer’s teats and taught the Sámi how to milk them. Because milk is the gift of the Heavenly Father, it must never be spilled.

The reindeer herds became so big that the reindeer became timid. The people could not keep them together. So the dog offered help, in return for a little milk, blood, meat and bone. This is how the dog came into the service of people and became the best friend and servant of the Sámi people.

The good sun-daughter Njavvis-ene lived a long life. When she finally felt that death was near, she ordered that she should be buried at the top of the very highest peak. From there she could see all around and follow what the people were doing.

When she died she was buried with great ceremony on a mountain top which is known today as the “Sun Daughter’s Mountain”. She was wrapped in a shroud and laid on a bed of njavvi, the long hair from the reindeer’s neck, which was also the name of her husband. A stone was set up at the head, another at the feet and one at each arm. A flat slab of rock was placed over the top. This was carefully covered with turf and on the foot stone was inscribed: “The turf raised, read the memorial”. And thus stands the grave to this day on the Sun Daughter’s Mountain.

Sources:, Lundmark, Bo, 1979: Anders Fjellner – Samernas Homeros. Lundmark, Bo, 1982: Skapelse och början i samisk saga och sägen, i Samefolket nr. 10.