Veli-Pekka Lehtola grew up in Inari and graduated from the Ivalo upper secondary school in 1977. He studied in the university of Oulu with literary studies as major subject and such secondary subjects as North Sámi, history subjects, archaeology and sociology. The subject of his pro gradu thesis was Samuli Paulaharju’s short stories and he took his MA in 1985.
Lehtola also studied science of religion for a year in the university of Helsinki while working as a freelance journalist at the same time. In 1986-1988, he worked as secretary for cultural affairs in Kaustinen in Central Ostrobothnia and, in 1988-90, he worked as teacher in Inari college. He was chief editor for the Oulunsalo newspaper through year 1991. He also worked as a freelance journalist before returning to the university.
Lehtola published his first work, Saamelainen evakko (Sámi Evacuees in IIWW, City-Sámit), in Finnish in 1994, when the biography of the general-writer K. M. Wallenius (Kustannus-Pohjoinen) was also published. The latter also became his licentiate thesis. Lehtola took his doctoral degree in 1997 with his work on Lapland’s literature, Rajamaan identiteetti (Identity of Frontier). Two other books were also published that year.
In 1998, the fresh Ph.D. found work at the university in the new assistant professor post of Sámi and other northern cultures. In 2004, that changed into a fixed-term professorship of Sámi culture, and in 2005 the professorship became a full-time post. When asked for hobbies for Finnish biographical encyclopedia in 2007, Lehtola announced ice hole fishing, La Traviata and Russian culture. Later it was only traveling, mainly in Europe but also on the American continent.
Photo: Teuvo Lehtola