Tuottarstugorna, Padjelanta Nationalpark, Sweden


Sápmi (area) [saːpmi]

Sápmi is the name of the cultural region in northern Scandinavia and northern Fennoscandia that belongs to the Sámi people. The region stretches over four countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Guoládat (Kola Peninsula), Russia.
Other names are Sámi Eatnan, Sábme, Saemie, Sameland, and the most common but inappropriate Lapland.

* Area: 388,350 km² (150,000 sq. mi)
* Population: 2,000,000 (~135,000 are Sámi)
* Anthem: Sámi soga lávlla ("Song of the Sámi People (lit. Family)") by Isak Mikal Saba
* National Day: Sámi álbmotbeaivi (Day of the Sámi People) February 6

- No Independence -


  Sápmi location

A Brief History

The oldest traces of Sámi civilization show that its people lived in these areas since 8,100 BCE. Just 2,000 years ago, their territory encompassed the whole of present day Finland, but also the shores of the Botnia Gulf and Atlantic Ocean, central and northern Norway, as well as the entire Russian area up to the White Sea.


The Sámi were involved in trading with surrounding peoples from the earliest times. More especially, they swapped reindeer, beaver, and elk products in order to insure their supply of tools, utensils, and jewelry materials.
From the 16th century, the Sámi were gradually integrated into the fiscal systems of the Nordic states, and were taxed for many years by three countries at the same time. Their territory was little by little settled by farmers and later taken over by mining industries during the 19th and 20th centuries. This accounts for the gradual switch in the Sámi lifestyle from hunting and fishing to reindeer husbandry, which occurred from the 17th century onwards.

Forced Christianization was led by missionaries who in the 17th century started "witch" hunts against religious beliefs and practices, which took its toll on the Sámi people. Their pagan sites were destroyed along with their shamans' drums, and disobedience was severely punished.
During these periods, Sámi children were forced to attend parochial schools, managed by the Church until recently. Beyond literacy and providing some basic knowledge of the State's language, the objective was to train some future Sámi ministers. In the 18th and 19th century, this educational system was completed by nomadic schools, as most Sámi were still not sedentary at the time.

Sámi (people) [saːmi]

The Sámi are the indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi (northern parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway). There are also Sámi, like me, who live elsewhere; e.g. approx. 30,000 Sámi or descendants of Sámi in the United States.
Sápmi's people are often known in other languages by the exonyms Lap, Lapp, or Laplanders, but these terms are regarded as pejorative and inappropriate.

The Sámi are the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognized and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples, and hence the northernmost indigenous people of Europe. They're claimed to be the aboriginal Northern Europeans, possibly those who first re-entered Europe from ice age refugia after the last glacial maximum. The genetic lineage of the Sámi is unique, and may reflect an early history of geographic isolation, genetic drift, and genetic bottle-necking. The uniqueness of the Sámi gene pool has made it one of the most extensively studied genetic population in the world.


Sámi (language)

The Sámi languages belong to the Finno-Ugrian class of languages and can be divided into two main groups, Western Sámi languages and Eastern Sámi languages. They are distinct enough that they are not mutually intelligible. The Sámi dialect from Northern Sápmi being the most commonly used, was adopted as the main language. Sámi vocabulary concerned with the subjects of nature, the weather and the reindeer is particularly rich. For instance, there are many words describing different sorts of snow or various features of a reindeer, to the point that they could allow identification of a single animal in a herd of several thousands. Out of 135,000 Sámi, only 23,000 have a knowledge of some Sámi language, but considerable efforts made through education and media conducted in Sámi language have now begun to show results.


Since the 1950's, Sámi language has been gradually re-introduced into the education system. Schooling is offered in Sámi language up to university level. There are several schools providing specific subjects related to Sámi culture and handicrafts skills, such as in Dálvvadis (Jokkmokk) in Sweden, or Kárášjohka (Karasjok) in Norway.

Sápmi Flag  

The Sámi Flag

Adopted in 1986, it is composed of a circle divided into two colors, blue and red, representing the moon and the sun. Two vertical lines, green and yellow, complete the range of traditional Sámi colors.


Luohti (Joik) [pronunciation: yoik]

A strong oral tradition has survived around "joik", a literary form of expression combining song and poetry, to tell stories and events and describe nature. The joik is a unique form of cultural expression for the Sámi people in Sápmi. This type of song can be deeply personal or spiritual in nature, often dedicated to a human being, an animal, or a landscape as a personal signature. Improvisation is not unusual. Each joik is meant to reflect a person or place. The Sámi verb "juoigat" is a transitive verb, which is often interpreted as indicating that a joik is not a song about the person or place, but that the joiker is attempting to evoke or depict that person or place through song - one joiks their friend, not about their friend. The sound of the joik is comparable to the traditional chanting of some Native American cultures.
Since the 1960's, there has been a revival movement around "joik".

A Taste Of Sámi Music
Annbjørg Hætta
"Mun Dárbbašan Du"

(I Need You)
Sofia Jannok
"Sámi Eatnan Duoddariid"

(Wide Open Tundra Of The Land Of The Sámi People)
Angelin Tytöt (Girls Of Angelin) feat. Ulla Pirttijärvi
"Giddat" (Spring)
Sámi people - Sápmi - Reindeer