Congratulations to the Sami

Today is the national day of the Sami people who live in the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Hurray!

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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.

Street sign in 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”.

Sami girls in Sami costumes

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.

Read more about Sami history.

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.

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3 responses to “Congratulations to the Sami

  • Roy

    I think you need to learn more about Finnmark before you write.about the county. Finnmark have 74 710 inhabitants but there is no way to tell for sure how many of this that is sami. If you read at tromsfylke.no.website the are talking about a numbert that the sami people is around 29% in 1900. If you use a counting by Abert Vilhelm from 1970 there is only about 7500 that says they are sami. Sadly this is the last number I know of.
    In 2009 there is registered 13 137 person in “samemantallet” and that is for Norway in total.

    Regards
    One of many from Finnmark that not is sami

  • Chris

    Hello Thyra,

    Its been a while since i last check your blog. A coupl of years i think and loved it. The whole world should emulate Scandinavian country in trying to right past wrongs. Not many years ago, when we just converted to Christianity, the priest have done the same thing. They will go around and raid our attic of old relics that connects us to our culture and burn them. I am fortunate enough to remember the old traditions, the animistic traditions but many children nowadays know nothing of it. Slowly but surely, our culture change, the language is dying and is taken over by dominant culture in our society. I always despised it when people talk about primitive culture when they they describe our culture. I found it insulting. Our culture teach us good moral and values and traditions if you care to know more. The world is a boring place if there is only one culture.

    Joik is very much like our own traditional song. It’s more about feelings rather than words and it’s used during a ritual mostly. The experience when I listen to it change as well. Sometimes, it sounds haunting, other times it sounds comforting. I don’t understand a word of that song but I love it. So thank you.

    Regards from a Bidayuh Girl and hope you have a nice day.

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