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  • Reino Rinne was a journalist, author, thinker, and conservationist. In his writings, he defended the nature of his home district Koillismaa and its free-flowing rapids. Born in the Suonnansaari island of Lake Kitkajärvi in 1913, Reino Rinne realized very early on that the constant increase in living standards and the reckless use of natural resources would not result in anything good in regard of nature or life. He wrote about the threats of climate change as early as in the 1950s. 

    In 1950, the experienced journalist and wordsmith founded the newspaper Koillissanomat in Kuusamo. Rinne introduced the concept of Koillismaa (the Northeastern Land), formulated with the author Kalle Päätalo, to describe the distinctive provincial character of Kuusamo, Taivalkoski, Posio and Pudasjärvi, the four rural communities within the newspaper’s circulation area. 

    Editor-in-Chief Rinne achieved national fame in the 1950s as a defender of the Kuusamo rapids. He opposed the effort of power companies to acquire rights to the natural rivers Oulanka, Kitka and Kuusinki. Koillissanomat reported on the plans of power companies to turn the flow direction of the rivers flowing into the White Sea so that they would empty into the Gulf of Bothnia via River Iijoki. The reporting turned the public opinion for the preservation of the rivers in their natural state. 

    Reino Rinne’s sincere will to defend the nature and tourism industry of the region, and the living conditions of the people of Koillismaa, ultimately resulted in the victory of natural values in Kuusamo. His dedication earned him the nickname “Kuusamo Rapids Warrior”. 

    The conservation of the rapids led to many good things: Reino Rinne is undoubtedly a forerunner on the journey that made nature tourism an important part of Kuusamo, and made Kuusamo a nature town characterized by natural waters and extensive national parks. 

    Reino Rinne became known as a versatile environmental philosopher. His observations of large-scale logging after the Great Partition and the use of heavy machinery in the Koillismaa forests were a major inspiration for the development of his independent environmental thinking. Reino Rinne looked at the north-eastern spruce and thought about the clear waters of Lake Kitkajärvi, but also drew inspiration from the international environmental debate that had gradually become known in Finland. 

    In the late 1960s, Reino Rinne became a freelance writer and resigned as editor-in-chief of Koillissanomat. During his career as a writer, he published more than 20 works: novels, essays, poems, aphorisms, pamphlets, and other texts, often with themes revolving on environmental philosophy and reflections on the possibilities of living in a world dominated by economics and technology. His most important work is the collection of poems Anna minulle atomipommi (Give Me an Atomic Bomb), published in 1970. Later in his career, Rinne was caught on the literary margin and self-published a large part of his late works. 

    Throughout his works, Reino Rinne retained a way of expression distinctive to himself, mixing playful humour with serious reflection. The message contained in the thinking and works of “Kuusamo Rapids Warrior” will continue to be relevant in the future. 


     ”Listen to a woman from Koillismaa 

    I have washed my child with this water
    And with fish this water has given
    Fed my family every day of the week.
    I have watched the sky in the mirror of water
    And forgotten my troubles, with which I will not bother you.
    I only say to you, only this I will say to you:
    Do not sink your dirty hands
    In this divine water.
    Man needs it” 

    Reino Rinne
    An excerpt from the poem ”A New Cry” (Give Me An Atomic Bomb, 1970)  

    • Born in Suonnansaari, Lake Kitkajärvi, in 1913
    • Was a writer, journalist, thinker, conservationist, ”the bear of Posio” and “the rapids warrior”.
    • Worked in newspapers Kaleva and Lapin Kansa, and in culture magazine Kaltio.
    • Was a frontline reporter during the Continuation War.
    • Published his first novel Tunturit hymyilevät (The Fells Are Smiling) at the age of 32 in 1945.
    • Founded the newspaper Koillissanomat in 1950 and was its first editor-in-chief. In 2018, Koillissanomat became part of the Kaleva Media Company.
    • Created the concept Koillismaa (the Northeastern Land) together with writer Kalle Päätalo.
    • Fought on behalf of the Kuusamo rapids in the so-called “rapids war” by the power of the written word.
    • Published 9 collections of poems, 2 collections of short stories, 4 collections of aphorisms, 2 non-fiction books and a collection of fairy tales.
    • The Union of Finnish Writers Award of Recognition in 1988, State Literature Prize in 1971.
    • Founding member of the Merikoski Club, Culture Magazine Kaltio, Lapland Art Club Seitapiiri, Sammaleennostajat (moss pickers) Society and Rotary Club Kuusamo.
    • Chairman of the Kuusamo Society 1955-1967, chairman of Koillismaan luonto ry (Northeastern Nature Association) 1970, editor-in-chief of the magazine Koillis-Luonto (Northeast Nature) 1979-1992.
    • Hosted the world’s northernmost meeting of writers in 1962, and a nature conference in 1974 in Suonnansaari.
    • Rinne was conferred an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Education of the University of Oulu in 1994.
    • Reino Rinne died at the age of 88 in Kuusamo in 2002. 

    Anna and Reino Rinne in Posio in 1950.
    PHOTO Wesa Rinne photo archives

  • The Fells Are Smiling, novel, Otava 1945 
    The Road Ends On Top Of The Fell, novel, Otava 1946 
    The People Of The Wilderness, short stories, Otava 1949 
    The Gold Panner, novel, Otava 1955 
    Before Leaving, novel, Karisto 1963 
    Koillismaa In Photographs, with Kalle Päätalo, KJG 1964 
    Highlights Of Finnish Sports, with Pekka Tiilikainen, Karisto 1969 
    Give Me An Atomic Bomb, poems, Alea 1970 (State Literature Prize 1971) 
    Human Being RETD, short stories, Alea 1970 
    Telegrams From Stars, poems, uforisms, Alea 1971 
    Kuusamo Of Koillismaa, photorisms, Pohjoinen 1973 
    I Have Spoken, essays, Alea 1973  
    Long-distance Calls, poems, uforisms, Pohjoinen 1974 
    I Have Not Become Silent, essays, Alea 1976 
    Posio, 1976 
    The Time Of The Dinosaurs, poems, uforisms, Alea 1977 
    Conquered Without Praise, nature essays, R. Rinne 1978 
    The Unknown Unemployed, novel, Karhu-kirja 1980 
    Kimalaya, poems, uforisms, Karhu-Kirja 1981 
    Fairy Tale Spring, fairy tales, Karhu-Kirja 1982 
    Divine Water, poems, uforisms, Karhu-Kirja 1983 
    The Road Of Harmony, photorisms and uforisms, Karhu-Kirja 1986 
    Total Peace, uforisms, Karhu-Kirja 1987 
    A Pamphlet on Paanajärvi, pamphlet, Karhu-Kirja 1988 
    The Primaeval Forest, verses and portraits, Karhu-Kirja 1990 
    On The Road With The Earth, uforisms, Karhu-Kirja 1992 
    The Peace of Lapland, Karhu-Kirja 1991 
    Thank You Sweet Country, poems, Karhu-Kirja 1991 
    My Axe Into The Lake?, uforisms, Karhu-Kirja 1993 
    The Fells Are Smiling, 2nd printing of Rinne’s first novel 1995 
    Created Was Koillismaa, novel, Karhu-Kirja 1995 

    Reino Rinne and the covers of his books in 1996.
    PHOTO Wesa Rinne Photo Archive

    The works of Reino Rinne in Suonnansaari in 2004.
    PHOTO Wesa Rinne Photo Archive

    • The Great Partition regarding the rapids areas of rivers Oulanka and Juuma was unfinished.
    • The power companies Imatran Voima and Pohjolan Voima were competing to buy sections of rapids, the owners of which had not been decided upon.  
    • Buyers came to villages driving off-road vehicles or even helicopters, carrying briefcases full of money to make so-called down payments for sections of the rivers Oulanka, Kitka and Kuusinki. 
    • In 1955, the court ordered the Oulanka Valley to the state and the Juuma region to the statutory local landowners’ association, i.e., to local landowners.
    • The power company called a meeting with the landowners and offered them plenty to eat and drink. After a so-called beer meeting the landowners’ association began to quarrel and the police had to be called.
    • Companies violated purchase bans, carried out purchase attacks, and landowners were intimidated with property expropriation by the state. 
    • The Rapids War was talked about in the Parliament, and the Bank of Finland threatened the companies with credit restrictions.
    • The power companies withdrew and the people of Kuusamo planned to build their own power plant.
    • Some sections had even been sold twice, and lawyers were annulling contracts of sale. 
    • In 1960, the Kuusamo Hydroelectric Power Committee proposed the harnessing of the rapids.
    • Reino Rinne wrote in Koillissanomat about the plans and the effects of building a reservoir in the Oulanka area.
    • A delegation appealed to ministers for the rapids and for tourism in Kuusamo, and the municipality appealed to ministers for the construction of the power plant.
    • Koillissanomat reported about the secretly prepared River Iijoki plan, i.e. the intention to turn the waters of lakes Kitka and Kuusamojärvi to flow over the divide to River Iijoki.
    • The opinions of elected municipal officers turned against the construction. 
    • In 1962, the new Water Act required that possible disadvantages be taken into account when obtaining building permits for power plants.
    • The Juuma parcel, i.e. the Jyrävä and Aallokkokoski rapids, were still beyond the national park area.
    • In 1969, the people of Kuusamo and Posio collected 7,500 names to a rapids petition, and President Urho Kekkonen spoke in favour of the rapids.
    • In 1969, a memorandum by the Kuusamo Waterway Committee, in which two out of five options left the Kuusamo waters unharnessed, significantly reduced the threat of construction, thus ending the Rapids War.
    • In 1987, the Rapids Protection Act came into force. 

    Reino Rinne at Taivalköngäs in 1954.
    PHOTO Kinnunen Photo Archive 

Source: KirjastoVirma 

“Do lawyers aim to finish this Rapids War, disgraceful as it is, by sending those 400 landowners who had consented to parcel sales to jail?” 
U.A. Virranniemi 

 ”This is a cry from a mosquito 

This is a cry from a birch bark horn  
This is a cry from a rough-handed man 
This is a cry from an unhunted bear” 

An excerpt from the poem ”A Cry” (Give Me An Atomic Bomb, 1970) 

Riina Puurunen, Writer
Ulla Ingalsuo-Laaksonen, MSSc
Jouni Alavuotunki, Ph.Lic.

Jonna Lohi, MA, Pivot Translations