Gypsy revolves around the legs of Erik Kiilunen carrying a shotgun in a snowdrift.
The young beagle would by no means be able to go after the hares for the second time in the same day.
- Lazy shit, Kiilunen gently criticizes the dog.
Kiilunen says the word in Finnish, but his accent is American.
A fourth-generation American Finn does not speak many words in the language of his ancestors.
Kiilunen's father Matt only spoke Finnish until the age of five, but his language skills waned over time.
Matt Kiilunen owns Gypsy and two other dogs on the hunt.
However, he is not involved.
Matt is 84 years old and has suffered from lung diseases.
Back in the summer of 2019, he visited the forest three times a week.
Here in Northern Michigan, such is not uncommon.
Erik Kiilunen (right), like many northern Michigan hunters. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
Father Kiilunen's forces began to wane even before he got the coronavirus at the beginning of the year.
It took the man to the hospital for five days.
It was scary, but Erik Kiilunen's mind didn't change: he thinks the coronavirus is a big scam and part of a plot aimed at turning the United States into a socialist state.
Hundreds if not thousands of residents of the area agree, many of whom have Finnish roots and a Finnish name.
Kielus has become their charismatic leader.
Developments have been repeated in small localities across America: economic decline, religious movements, and conservative values made Donald Trump president and allowed the coronavirus to spread wildly.
While the features are common, the story of each locality is unique.
Here it cannot be told without copper and the Finns who followed it.
The workers were photographed in Calumet in 1906 before landing in the mine. Image: Circa Images / Glasshouse / Zuma / MVPhotos
In the winter of 1846, a huge boulder of natural copper was found on the Kewenaaw Peninsula, protruding into Lake Superior.
Copper fever followed.
Countless small mines emerged in the middle of an unconscious wilderness.
Few of them remained upright for a few years, but the most successful grew into giants.
They paid fabulous dividends to their owners for decades.
The U.S. Civil War tripled the price of copper, but at the same time, many of the miners were forced to the front.
Christian Taftes, an office worker at the Quincy mine, had a solution to the labor shortage.
Taftes was from the Tornio River Valley and spoke fluent Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian.
He traveled to Ruija, Norway in 1864 and recruited a hundred workers from English-owned mines.
There were also Finns among them.
The Quincy mine is now a museum. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
Working under a candle underground was heavy and dangerous, but it won home conditions in Kaloti.
The Finns attracted acquaintances and relatives to America with their letters, and in the end so many arrived that by the First World War the Finns became the largest ethnic group in the region.
The canal had already been excavated across the Kewenaaw peninsula in the early 1860s, so the Finns began to call the region north of it the “Copper Island”.
Kuparisaari became a mythical place, especially in the eyes of the Finnish population in the northern parts of Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Newcomers were not even bothered by the remote location and the snowy winters.
They just made me feel at home.
The charismatic preacher Lars Laevi Laestadius had toured the same regions where Finns flowed into America.
In Finland, his followers remained within the national church, but in America, the Lestadians got into quarrels with the Evangelical Lutherans.
The world's first Lestadian church was founded in Calumet on Copper Island in 1873.
The wave of Finnish migration to Kuparisaari came to a halt during the First World War, but more than a hundred years later, the legacy they left is visible everywhere in the area.
Right next to the airport is a village called Paavola.
The road continues past the Quincy mine, which was closed decades ago, to the small town of Hancock, which is ruled by Finlandia University.
It was founded by Finns in 1896 under the name Suomi Opisto.
In Hancock, even some of the streets have Finnish names.
On Valtakatu, or Quincy Street, next to the insurance company Tervo is Kaleva Cafe.
It has a pancake on its list.
The delicacy is served under the same name in many restaurants in the area.
Wheat can also be found everywhere.
In the 2010 census, one third of the region's residents stated that they were Finnish-American.
Almost all of them remember which Finnish place they have their roots in.
Lapland, Kainuu and Northern Ostrobothnia are strongly represented.
Most people with a Finnish background also know a few words of Finnish.
Many have a sauna at home.
Midsummer celebrations are celebrated in the summer.
Heaters are sold in the center of Calumet. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
Hancock also houses the Finnish American Heritage Center, which cherishes Finnish traditions.
Still, the real Finnish city in the area was once Calumet.
Calumet means peace pipe in the local Indian language.
The town was born in the late 19th century next to the huge copper mines of Calumet & Hecla.
At the turn of the century, 8,000 Finns lived in Calumet, and it was called the capital of American Finns.
Pine Street or “Mäntykatu” was the Finnish heart of Calumet.
There were saunas, shops, bakeries, saloons and photography shops owned by Finns.
When a Finn had earned enough money on Kuparisaari, he usually bought a thick-chained pocket watch, took a photo of himself and sent the picture to the old land.
Suometar was one of the newspapers published in Calumet. Photo: National Board of Antiquities
The first job of many Finns was in the mine.
Unlike the pioneers who came from Norway, the later arrivals had no work experience in the field.
Finns without language skills were usually placed in the heaviest and lowest paid jobs.
The seats for the officers were reserved for native English speakers.
Compared to many other immigrant groups, Finns were quite educated: almost everyone could read and write.
They followed the events of their old homeland and diligently subscribed to Finnish-language newspapers published in the area, such as the left-wing Worker and Nuyhälistö's Mallet.
Considering these factors, it was not surprising that the labor movement spread strongly among Finns.
When a strike broke out in the Kuparisaari mines in the summer of 1913, the Finns were at the forefront demanding shorter working days, better pay and trade union recognition.
The labor struggle became bloody.
Strikers were beaten and even killed by strikers, and mining companies hired hard-working security guards.
On Christmas Eve 1913, there was a Christmas party for the strikers in Calumet’s Italian hall, where hundreds of children and their parents had gathered.
When someone shouted the fire was out, panic arose.
73 people, most of them children, were killed in Rytäkä.
Of the victims, 50 were American Finns.
There was no fire.
Some said they saw that the man behind the untrue shout had a badge saying he belonged to an anti-strike organization.
However, the man was never identified, and no one was convicted of “Calumet’s panic”.
Ruins of the Italian Hall remain. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
Shortly after the tragedy, the strike subsided.
The mining companies shortened working days but did not accept the union as their negotiating partner.
Many Finnish strikers were blacklisted and could no longer find work in the area's mines.
The golden age of Copper Island was over.
The mines began to run out and employed fewer and fewer people.
Tens of thousands of people moved from the region, including thousands of Finns.
Some got jobs from mines in the West, others moved to Detroit, where Henry Ford promised all his workers a $ 5 daily wage.
Thousands set out to build Soviet Karelia, often with tragic consequences.
Many of the remaining Finns became farmers.
The goal of most immigrants had originally been to work in the mines only as long as they had enough money to buy the land.
Lestadian preachers praised the bliss of farming.
The Finns bought logging openings and turned them into fields.
The explosives handling learned in the mines was useful in clearing stocks.
The names of Finnish communities have survived to this day in the countryside of Northern Michigan: Aura, Nisula, Kiva, Tapiola, Finland, Toivola, Elo… Some of the villages were south of the canal, but the locals still liked them as part of Copper Island.
Many of the fourth- or fifth-generation immigrants living in these communities are still completely Finnish by inheritance.
Mixed marriages with other groups were partly reduced by religion: Lestadians seek to marry only others in the faith.
Calumet is today a bold and sad sight at the same time.
More than a hundred-year-old commercial buildings made of red sandstone are handsome, but many of them are empty.
The average income of Calumet residents is one-third of the Michigan state average.
The region is haunted by an evil drug problem.
The streets of Calumet are currently quiet. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
The village is mainly supported by tourism, but it is also small-scale.
Snowmobiles have been parked on the streets covered with thick snow.
The store sells sauna heaters.
One of Calumet’s few restaurants is Cafe Rosetta, owned by Amy Heikkinen, 41.
It's not open, but Heikkinen is arranging places.
He looks so Finnish that he would fit into Prisma's checkout queue.
- All my grandparents are Finnish, Heikkinen says.
Amy Heikkinen fears that corona restrictions will destroy her café. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
Cafe Rosetta has become Kuparisaari's most famous restaurant during the coronavirus pandemic.
It has rebelled since the restrictions imposed by the state of Michigan since last summer.
When the third wave of the virus hit the United States in the fall, all Michigan restaurants had to close their dining areas.
Cafe Rosetta kept its doors open.
Demonstrations were held on behalf of the restaurant, attended by armed men.
Eventually, the health authorities took the restaurant’s license.
- They want to set an example for us: hit hard and show everyone else that if their orders are not taken seriously, they will suffer punishment.
Cafe Rosetta offers face masks. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
Heikkinen is a single parent of six children who managed to make his restaurant a profitable business before the corona.
The restaurant employs 30 part-time employees.
Speaking in a quiet voice, Heikkinen thanks Donald Trump for his success.
- He understands business more than any other politician.
Heikkinen does not wear a mask.
He says the doctor has written him an exemption from it based on hypothyroidism.
By the way, Heikkinen does not believe in the recommendations of the health authorities.
He has talked about corona with alternative therapists and came to the conclusion that the best way to protect against the virus is to strengthen his own immune system.
Health authorities took Cafe Rosetta's license. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
At the beginning of the year, the battle of Cafe Rosetta began to receive publicity throughout the United States when Erik Kiilunen joined in support of Heikkinen.
Kiilunen, who owns two companies, had already started his own campaign against interest rate restrictions.
He recruited a communications agency that also began drumming Cafe Rosetta.
Soon the duo gave an interview to conservative news outlets around the country.
Heikkinen says that the café has already received donations of $ 70,000 for legal costs.
Juho Erkki Kiilunen first traveled from Lappajärvi to America at the age of 20 in 1887. He returned to Finland, married and traveled again with his family to the United States in 1902. The family settled near Calumet, where Kiilunen worked as a blacksmith.
The family's third son, Matt, knew how to forge and weld steel at the age of ten.
He worked as a fisherman on Lake Superior before founding a company that made lifting hooks and ice chisels.
The company later began making welding materials, and when Matt died in 1990, it employed 50 people.
Matt named one of his sons after himself.
He is Erik Kiilunen's father.
Erik Kiilunen worked in the management of a company founded by his grandfather until 2009, until he burned out.
He moved into his cottage for half a year and decided to start realizing his life goals that he had recorded at the age of 30.
There were five items on the list.
- Number one: keep my faith in God.
Second, live in this area.
The third was to spend more time with family and friends.
The fourth was to make a useful product and the fifth was to retire at the age of 45, Kiilunen says.
The fifth did not materialize, but it is not annoying for Kiilto.
One of Kiilunen's companies performs various construction contracts and the other manufactures concrete reinforcement made of reinforced plastic.
The name of the company is Neuvokas, and Kiilunen's goal is to expand it to both Europe and Asia in the next few years.
Erik Kiilunen's company Neuvokas manufactures concrete reinforcement. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
Kiilunen's family is also completely Finnish.
His wife Janine's maiden name is Helminen.
Janinen's nephews Dwight and Lars Helminen played hockey as professionals in Finland.
The wedges have ten children, five of whom are school-age.
Admittedly, they are currently attending homeschooling, as Michigan schools have a mask requirement.
Kiilunen does not believe in masks or the danger of the coronavirus.
He presents figures from his laptop that show a disproportionate number of coronary deaths in the United States compared to the rest of the world.
According to Kiilunen, this is not due to, for example, incomplete statistics in developing countries or poor pandemic management in the United States.
Kiilunen is sure that the danger of the virus has been exaggerated and statistics have been manipulated for political reasons.
Kiilunen calls Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer a tyrant.
The restrictions imposed by Whitmer a year ago made Kiilus a political activist.
Due to the restrictions, the order book of Kiilunen's contracting company was empty.
- When a business worth $ 600,000 goes in a few days, it will get my attention, Kiilunen says.
Erik Kiilunen says that he has developed a production line that is many times more efficient than its competitors. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
At the Kiilunen plant, no one wears masks.
He himself has never used a mask and mocks those who wear it.
- When everyone just obeys nicely, one fine day you wake up from the Soviet Union.
That is what is happening.
Kiilunen sounds up when he gets off Fox News' anchor.
He thinks Joe Biden is a senile elderly man who fraudulently won the presidential election.
He calls Finland a communist state.
He complains that he has been censored by both Facebook and Linkedin because of his conservative opinions.
Right now, Kiilunen is angry with the board of Michigan Technical University.
Located on the opposite shore of Hancock, Houghton University is the backbone of the region’s economy.
When Kiilunen's sister used the university parking lot to protest on behalf of Donald Trump, left-wing professors rose to their toes and accused Trump's supporters of racism, among other things.
The wedge is the university's attention to minorities.
- Am I proud of the fact that I am Finnish?
My wife is one hundred percent Finnish, so our children are fifth-generation American Finns.
But do I tell people that I am Finnish-American?
I am American.
Erik Kiilunen (center) goes through the technical details with his business partners. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
There is a lot of support for Kiilunen's ideology in the region.
More than three months after the election, Copper Island still shows Trump tickets here and there.
In Houghton County, Trump received 56 percent of the vote, although Biden collected a lot of votes from the university crowd.
Donald Trump junior himself visited Kuparisaari to campaign for his father.
He also stopped at Cafe Rosetta.
On January 6, Kiilunen and a few other locals traveled to Washington for a demonstration that escalated into a riot.
Greg Markkanen, a Republican living in Hancock, was re-elected to the Michigan State House of Representatives in November.
He promised in his election slogan to keep the “guts” in the state capital, Lansing.
- The people here are conservative.
They do not want the state to interfere in their affairs, Markkanen explains the popularity of the Republicans.
Greg Markkanen promised to keep the guts in the capital of Michigan, Lansing. Photo: Mikko Marttinen / IS
Janet Metsa challenged Markkanen as a Democrat candidate.
He points out that Lestadian anti-abortion drives them to the Republican camp.
Kiilunen's hatred of Governor Whitmer in the Forest has a simple explanation.
- Her Theological position is that women should not be in the lead, Metsa says.
In October, U.S. Central Criminal Police arrested 14 men who planned to kidnap Whitmer.
According to the forest, there is also a threat of violence in the air on Kuparisaari.
- People have come to the demonstrations armed.
We have our own rebellion here in Keweenaw.
Just like in Finland, in America the Lestadians have been divided into different sects.
Both Kiilunen and Heikkinen belong to the First Apostolic Lutheran Church, which was founded by preacher Walter Törölä from Finland.
They are called wipes.
Some of the Lestadian churches in Kuparisaari take the corona seriously.
They have limited the number of participants in worship services and required parishioners to wear masks.
The people of Töröl have not ignored the restrictions.
Kiilunen says that 500 unmasked people gather in their church every Sunday.
According to him, seven of the congregation have died of coronavirus.
The section is ferocious, but it doesn’t wedge for a moment.
He says all the dead were old people.
Houghton County has a population of 36,000, and the coronavirus has already claimed the lives of 40 people there.
It is more than in northern Finland, which has more than 700,000 inhabitants.
In Houghton's public deaths, people with a Finnish background are overrepresented.
The pandemic, which claimed more than half a million victims in the United States, appears to be unfolding at the moment.
Amy Heikkinen is confident that Cafe Rosetta will soon be able to open its doors again.
Flags of the United States and the state of Michigan are flying in the tango. Photo: Kristin Ojaniemi
However, there is no indication that Kiilunen is leaving his activism.
The Conservative Patriot’s Club, founded by him, has gathered hundreds of participants in a short time.
Kiilunen is unspoken about his next movements.
- There are a lot of people in this country who say they have had enough.
What happens when enough people have had enough and the other side doesn’t stop their pressure?
I'm not going to answer.
Gypsy eventually gets chased.
Kiilunen's shotgun fires once.
He proudly raises the rabbit he shot.