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Sami people


The Sami are the indigenous people living in the upper Northern part of Scandinavia, divided into several communities, mostly in Norway (60,000) and Sweden (around 20,000). Smaller communities live in Finland (6,000) and Russia (about 2,000). They claim to have lived in Sweden and Norway long before Swedes and Norwegians started setting borders and making laws and rules.

The Sami communities became separated because of living in different national states, and their nomadic lifestyle became difficult. For centuries, they have followed in the footsteps of their reindeer herds. The reindeer, like most animals, do not respect the concept of the division of the landscape by humans, and therefore neither do the Sami. Moreover, the Sami were colonised by Swedes and Norwegians, even into the 1980s. Speaking Sami languages was almost forbidden, the practice of Sami culture and traditions was suppressed in every possible way, and their heritage and history were completely neglected in national history and education. Sami culture was considered inferior to Swedish and Norwegian culture, and the policy was to erase it and replace it with their own.

However, Sami culture did not disappear. They fought for their place in Scandinavian society. Today they have schools, a Sami parliament, Sami public media, but their struggle is not over. It seems that it will always be difficult to find a long-term understanding between the traditional Sami way of life and the newer nation states and their aspirations for a unified identity.

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