Nattavaara’s History

Nattavaara is really two villages, divided by the Råne river; the northern side Nattavaara village and southern side Nattavaara station.

Originally Nattavaara was a Sámi tax area called “Nattejaure”, from which the place got its original name. First settler, Michel Russia arrived and established a home here in 1670. An old document mentions the place as “Nattewahr”. The Finnish spelling-“vaara”(meaning mountain) was established in the early 1900’s. Before then, the city spelled, Natta, Nattawari, Nattewahr.

The name’s meaning is not certain, but of the word “Natta” may be a corruption of the Sámi word “Nahta” meaning shaft. The Sámi word “vare” and the Finnish “vaara” means mountain. Nattavaara is thus “Shaft Mount.”

Prior to the Sámi, the first settler in Nattavaara was Mickel Ryss or RussyMickel, who is said to have come from “the East in the 1660s.

Nattavaara was at the center of the Iron ore transportation via Malmens Väg (“the Ore Trail”) that extends from Malmberget in the north to Strömsund in the South. In 1745 the trail became an official transportation route, with the ore being transported by Sami with reindeer and akkjor.

reindeer transporting iron ore

In general 8-12 reindeer were linked together to form a “train”, known as reindeer “Renrajde”. Behind the lead reindeer traveled the so-called Rajdl leader and in an akkjor behind each reindeer ore was loaded. Each reindeer pulled up to 170 kg). At the back, a person would follow on skis to keep watch so that everything worked, the person usually had also dogs with them.

An interesting historical monument is a Sámi offerplats (a place where items where left, from animal remains, to carvings and jewelry) on Attjekoive which lies at the southern end of the mountain. The offerplats is a crag that stands out and forms a roof over the site, where offerings to the gods took place. Attjekoive is a Sámi word and means Thunder hill.

Approximately 400m south of where Murtovaara road ends, there is a “Fångstgrop” a pit where wild animals were driven in to be trapped and killed for food. The sides of the pit have now collapsed in and you cannot really appreciate that it really was a deep pit.

The first person known who run a shop in Nattavaara was Jons Juntti Jakobsson in the 1870s. Jons died in 1890 and his son Jakob Jonsson took over the business until his death in 1893 when it ceased. The village has had many businesses including; charcoal making, hauliers, taxi companies, cement factory and at least two sawmills.

Nattavaara area did not have a road until 1906 when the road between the station and the village was completed. The road between Nattavaara and Gällivare was not built until 1961.

Nattavaara Village and Station is located about 50 miles south of Gällivare.

Source: Ture, Axelsson, Nattavaara’s history