“Pelkie” explores Finnish communities in the U.P.


Photo courtesy of WNMU website FINNISH HERITAGE-Former NMU professor of 40 years researched “Pelkie” during his tenure.

Akasha Khalsa

NMU’s Beaumier Heritage Center continues offering opportunities to explore U.P. history and culture through documentaries. This coming week the Center will be co-sponsoring the premiere showing of “Pelkie: 100 Years of Finnishness in Michigan’s North Woods,” a 3-episode series produced by Michael Loukinen.

The full series will be available on WNMUTV 13 PBS on Monday, March 15 at 8 p.m. It will be broadcast as part of the Festival! 2021. Lasting from Saturday, February 27 – Monday, March 15 this is an event in which “a variety of specials will explore the country’s culture, people and history” according to WNMU’s website.

“Pelkie” is based on oral histories of Finnish-American residents of the U.P.

The film series “focuses on the multigenerational Finnish migrant communities in the Western Lake Superior region, areas called ‘havens in the woods’. In these havens, Finnish immigrants formed communities while working in the mines. As the mining industry faced labor strikes, Finnish immigrants started logging and establishing small dairy farms,” according to the NMU event calendar.

The series consists of three consecutive parts. Episode 1, entitled “From Copper Miners to Farmers” will last 1 hour and 6 minutes. Episode 2, entitled “Third Generation: Cows, Kids, and Barns” is 58 minutes in length. Finally Episode 3, “A Farewell to Dairy Farming” is 44 minutes.

Producer Loukinen taught sociology at NMU for 40 years while he also worked intermittently on this series, according to the NMU event calendar.