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From early Sámi history...

sapmis flagga 

The Sámi people are the indigenous of Europe. Divided but not separated by four nation borders, estimated numbers are 100 000 individuals and in Sweden about 20 000. Along the Norwegian coast in the north, you can find beautiful rock carvings more than 11 000 years old, remnants of early Sámi ancestral activities, known as the Komsa culture. In those pre-historic days a stretch of ice-free land was to be found adjacent to the Barents Sea while Scandinavia still was covered in ice. Main objects are reindeers, elks and various fish like salmon and also seal, hunters with arrows, boats and seafarers knowledgeably fashioned.

The Sámi culture and lifestyle has from prehistoric days through centuries adapted to the conditions of the artic climate and the barren land.


98 AC, the Roman writer Tacitus in his book Germanica gave the first written description of the Sámi, to him known as Fenni. He described Fenni according to hearsay, as a hunter- and fisher nation, as people who owned nothing, neither horses nor houses. They did not farm and ate whatever the land gave, they were dressed in fur and beds were made directly on the ground. Not knowing of iron the arrowheads were made of bone. Men and women hunted together and shared the prey. They protected the old and the children against storms and wolves in shelters made of brushwood. Fenni took life as it came and didn't trouble them selves with building houses nor farming the land. Their life was carefree with no worries over bad harvests neither their own nor other's belongings. The conclusion Tacitus made was that Fenni had reached the highest goal any man could wish for and had no need for anything further.

...to modern life style


Despite pressure through centuries from the dominating society the Sámi has maintained their life style. Ancient traditions still exist partly in new ways. The previous self-subsistent household demanded handiness and creativity of its members for survival and thus produced skilful craftsmen and -women, and a technology tailored to the environment and the harsh climate. Well adapted into modern society the Sámi have modified old customs to fit in with today's life style. From traditional items for everyday use both men and women have developed the handicraft into artistically beautiful objects faithful to the tradition.

Skilful hands using sharp knives create carvings in intricate patterns, designing colourful woollen textiles for the traditional clothing or beautiful silver jewellery typical to the Sámi alone. Some of the material is found close at hand in nature, root fibre and twigs, wood from pine trees or birch, hide, bone and antlers from the reindeer. Best-known important ethnical markers alongside the art and craft are the reindeer herding, the language and the traditional music known as joik.

människor i en båt 

Even if influences of modern lifestyle take its toll, the connection to nature is very strong and the territory is essential for the survival of the culture and the Sámi as one people. The cross border work between the Sámi parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland is in this respect very important. The Sámi on Russian side are still waiting for their own political institution. The Sámi parliament in Sweden was instigated in august 1998 and since then its work has been dedicated to the overtaking of responsibilities over Sámi issues like education, culture, language and reindeer herding, where the final step of self govern and regaining control over the territory is still far from realisation. The Sametinget meets four times a year and elections are held every fourth year.

Föreningen Vild-Eken | pg: 39 21 88-9 | info@vild-eken.com 


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