The tale behind the name Murhahaara (Murder Branch)

In the northern parts of Salla, in the Tuntsa area, there is a hut in the wilderness called Murhahaara (Murder Branch). For centuries, it has been rumoured to be haunted. In the guestbook of the hut, people have scribbled warnings to those spending the night about ghosts appearing during the darkest hour. The tale behind the name of the hut and the nearby brook offer an explanation of why these restless souls are still wandering the area.

In the 17th century, pulled by his sled reindeer Illa, a Lapp from Onkamojärvi in Salla went to visit another Lapp living in Martti in Savukoski. The men got into a quarrel and the Lapp of Martti killed the Lapp of Onkamo, slaughtering his reindeer for meat. After a few weeks, the 17- and 20-year-old sons of the Lapp of Onkamo came to look for their father. The Lapp of Martti denied having seen the man from Onkamo at all. However, his son made the mistake of asking his father whether he should bring some meat from the reindeer Illa from the game hut, for the soup to be served to the guests. The brothers duly noted this but said nothing.

The men agreed to make a fishing trip together at the Värriö River the following autumn. While on the river, the brothers from Onkamo kept watch and after the Lapp of Martti had fallen asleep, they killed him. They took the Lapp’s 12-year-old son with them and, having covered some distance, drowned him through a hole in the ice. To justify their acts the brothers declared the following: “A crook spawns crooks, and a son of a crook is a crook himself.”

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