Today is the national day of the Sami people who live in the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Hurray!
Actually it`s not entirely true to say they only live in the north of these four countries. They used to have large settlements far south, at least in the Nordic countries (not so sure about Russia) and today many Sami people have moved to the large cities in the south.
What is true is that, today, the Sami culture is much more visible in the north. The majority of the people who live in Finnmark (the northern-most part of Norway) are Sami and all public servants need to be able to speak Sami if they are addressed in Sami. Street signs in the northern part of Norway have to be in both Norwegian and Sami.
The Sami people, like so many nations around the globe, is an oppressed people. For centuries the Sami people lived side by side with the Norwegians, Swedes, Finns etc. but in the 19th century their land was taken from them and they were denied the use of their language, their clothes and their culture in general. The Sami language disappeared from large parts of what used to be Sami areas and so many Sami people were “Norwegianizes” or “Swedized”.
Since the 1970s the Nordic countries have tried to reverse the oppression and much has been done. Not enough, surely, and you can`t change things back to what they were.
But today is a day of celebration. Today is a day where we give the Sami people our warmest thoughts and we have some reindeer stew in their honor. And you should listen to some joik – the Sami song.
Listen to Mari Boine and her beautiful song Gula Gula.