Ellen Lie

Ellen Lie (1876-1946) grew up at Østerli, Tyholt in the municipality of Strinda. Later she spent most of her adult life with siblings in Tidemandsgate in the Singsaker district.
After graduating from middle school, Lie started working as a stenographer with the Ny Tid newspaper. In 1911 she was employed by Dagsposten [another newspaper], and there she worked as a journalist until 1935. This made her a pioneer in a profession and environment heavily dominated by men. She was a versatile journalist, but her primary concern was social issues. Both as a journalist and as a private person she was strongly committed to many causes and contributed by collecting money to provide many needy people with some extra money for special occasions. Two other deeply-felt causes for her were the situation for the disabled and children's rights.
Her most notable cause was her eager support of the Sami people and their fight for justice. While she did not have a Sami background, she edited a permanent Sami policy column in Dagsposten. Through her job as a journalist she became acquainted with the Swedish Sami activist Elsa Renberg in 1916. When the Sami arranged their very first national congress, in Trondheim in February 1917, Ellen Lie was a significant supporter. She had much of the responsibility for planning this historic meeting, where around 150 delegates attended. As the secretary of the congress she gave the opening speech on 6 February, highlighting the fact that this was the first time the Sami people had come together as a nation to protect and preserve their interests. Therefore, this was a great and proud moment in the history of the Sami people. In gratitude she was given a silver reindeer figure. Later, 6 February has become the Sami National Day, the day the meeting in Trondheim in 1917 was held.
In the years after 1917 Ellen Lie continued to be involved in Sami issues, such as schooling and education. She was also an important figure in the work to put Sami issues on the agenda in the Norwegian press. Due to deteriorating health she was forced to end her journalist career at 60 years of age and she was less active during the rest of her life. Ellen Lie died only a few days after celebrating her 70th birthday.
Recommended reading: Peder Borgen: Samenes første landsmøte [The first Sami national meeting]. Tapir, 1997.

Author: Einar Rædergård