A long time before the Vikings sailed out from Norway, the Sami people in the country located above the Arctic Circle, also known as Lapland, lived a traditional nomadic life as reindeer herdsmen, leading the reindeer herds across the tundra for the annual migration to lush grazing areas along the coasts.
Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 14 JUL 2020
Lapland is not defined by political borders, but by the Sami people in Northern Norway, Northern Sweden and Northern Finland as the region of their natural land. Their culture has existed for thousands of years – and although a bit different depending on time and location across the vast Lapland, they are all unified by their simple and nomadic way of living, as well as their addiction to and passion for the reindeer!
The sami settlements could be found anywhere in the wild landscape characterised by tundra, mountains and snow. This was where reindeer husbandry took place, and the Sami people of Lapland developed their culture. They had and still have traditions of drying, smoking and salting their foods. Also the traditional Sami song, joik, is still an essential part of the culture – like Sami handicrafts and cooking.
The Sami Languages is also rather unique. When driving in Lapland, you will notice that the signposts are both in Norwegian, Swedish or Finnish – and Sami!
Today, the sami culture has, through, adapted a bit to modern life. Some are still proper reindeer herders with a reindeer husbandry, whereas others have transformed their primary occupation into being farmers, hunters or fishermen. Quite a few of the traditional Sami people have also moved to the towns of Northern Norway creating a new and different lifestyle there.
The Sami people doesn’t only existed in the very north. In Norway there are also South Sami people Living as far to the South as Snåsa. Regent research has also revealed that for instance on Lofoten, most people today have Sami roots.
The Sámi National Day (Sámi álbmotbeaivi) is celebrated every year on 6 February – an event which still unites the Sami people across Lapland.
Options to get insight into the Sami people and their traditional way of life are for example to visit
1. Jokmokk in Sweden, the Sami winter gathering point in Lapland
2. Alta in Northern Norway
3. Karasjok, the Sami people parliament in Northern Norway
4. Saemien Sijte in Snåsa, museum.
5. Sami site on Lofoten, near Sortland, Inga Laila.
6. Hike on Saltfjellet at the Arctic Circle monument. Here you will find traces of the Sami route when herding the reindeer across the mountains for the annual migration.
7. Participate in one of the annual Sami festivals.