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The Sámi People
Sigrid & Serina




Forewords
The subject we are presenting beside English is social science. We have decided to go deeper in Sami culture, reflect possible issues/problems that are current today, and earlier in Sami history. We are going to present main features, and also try to set ourselves in their situation, and how it is to life that way, and how it has been growing up as natives. We are also going to give some information about religion, ways of living and other side facts that makes it easier to experience their ways of living.

General facts
The Sámi people are the indigenous people of northern Europe, which today encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The Sami people are among the largest indigenous ethnic groups in Europe. Assimilation makes it difficult to give exact numbers for the Sami population today. But the estimated number of Sami is 50,000-75,000. Of these 15,000-20,000 live in Sweden, 30,000-50,000 in Norway, 4,000-5,000 in Finland and about 2,000 in Russia.

The Sami culture
10 000 years ago the Sami’s forefathers hunted moose and game and carved pictures of these animals in the rocks of northern Norway. The birth of Christ, a century later, the Roman author Tacitus described the people called “fenni” who dressed in animal skins and slept on the ground. During the 1500s the hunting of wild reindeer was declines, and along the coast many Sami became good fishermen.

Jojk and music
The Sami music is called jojk and is a singing style where melody and verse are of equal importance. One of the most important reasons why jojk is so well known and characteristic, is that it is improvised while singing and can express feelings of sorrow, hate or love. Singing jojk means deeply indentifying yourself with something or someone. In some point of history, jojk reached religious ecstasy and the church looked on jojk as “the song of the devil”, and banned it well into the 1900s, and this was a part of the christening of the Sami people. Today, Sami musicians still practice traditional jojk, often flavored with influence of western music. The Sami people are also working to make the Sami music more known among people.

Reindeers in Sami culture
Due to the close tie between Sami culture and reindeer herding, most of the Sami calendars are based on the life cycles of the reindeers. The eight season of this cycle are directly related to the annual behavior patterns of the reindeers. We can divide the seasons in these stages:
Spring winter – spring – Pre summer – summer – Pre autumn – autumn – Pre winter – winter

To keep track on time, the Sami also had calendars. The wooden calendar is divided into weeks and it serves as an easily transportable method for telling time. The calendar was used to keep track of both natural phenomena and religious occurrences. Here you can se a drawing of the Sami

The reindeer herding can be traced to the hunting of wild reindeer some 1000 years before Christ. During the 1500s, the Sami became reindeer-raising nomads. Today, only 10 percent of the Sami people are engaged in reindeer herding. During the long winter months food and other useful commodities could run out, and the Sami therefore made the maximum use of the reindeers. Transport, milk, food and clothes are some of the most importance ways of using reindeers. Today, only the Sami people have the right to hunt reindeers, and are still used as clothes, transport, and food and so on.


Traditional Sami costumes
The traditional Sami costumes is called kolt, and is an important identity symbol, especially in connection with events such as christenings, funerals, weddings, confirmations, etc. The traditional accessories for kolts, are belts, shoes and shoelaces and if woman, shawls or bosom- cloths. The costumes are different depending on their geographical origin.


What religion do the Sami practise?
The tight link with nature was apparent in the religion of the Sámi. According to the traditional Sámi religion, the world was permeated by spirits. Humans could only be successful in making their living if they cooperated with the natural forces. It was important not to damage nature, as that would have meant interfering with God´s work. The religion of such a people was cyclical, committed to the pattern of seasonal migration and the cycle of life.
After the missionary work most of the Sami people became Christians. The Sami in Scandinavia mainly belong to the Lutheran Church, while the Sami in Russia and part of Finland belong to the Greek Orthodox Church. A small number of Sami have converted to Catholicism, but to the best of our knowledge, none have converted to Judaism or Islam. For today's Sami, religion is just as multi-faceted as it is for the rest of the population in the various countries, which means that the various Christian denominations also recruit members from among the Sami. The religious intensification within the Lutheran Church that is offered by Laestadianism has left its mark on the faith of a large group of Sami.


The Christening policy and development
The Sami people were for over 250 years exposed for a conscious “norwegianisation” policy. The Norwegian state had for a long time decided that the Sami people were going to become one white the Norway culture. It was illegal to chant or use the Sami language in School. The Samis did not have the permission to use their language out in the community. The Christen missionary did the best they could to remove all trades after the nature worship from earlier times. In the 1960s the Norwegian governments realize that the “norwegianisation” policy had been a huge mistake. After the missionary work the Norwegian had a society with much bigger respect for the Sami people. The Norwegian

Today’s conflicts & consequences of earlier conflicts
The Sami’s have had many hard conflicts true the years. One of the worst things that the Sami people have experience true decades is the “norwegianization policy”. We believe that the Sami people will never forget what the Norwegian State did to their indigenous people. If we had been a Sami we know that we would never forget what the State had done to our culture and families.
Even though there are only about ten per cent of the Sami people that are reindeer herders today, this is a source of conflict between the Sami and the Norwegian state. The reindeer herders argue that Norwegian rules for the protection of carnivores is a big threat to their livelihood. According to Norwegian law the Sami are not allowed to kill the carnivores that often kill and eat their reindeers. Thus Sami reindeer herders are planning to charge the Norwegian state with breaches of the ILO convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and the international human rights.
Another problem with Sami reindeer herding is that in later years it has become a capital-intensive industry which has gone through a modernization process. The aim is to produce as much meat as possible and this has resulted in a deterioration of grazing land and environmental disturbances.
The aggressive Norwegian policy towards the Sami people, especially in the interwar years, is a black chapter in Norwegian history. But the Sami is a strong minority, proud of their culture, and have demanded and achieved their rights.
Today the Sami are a part of Norwegian identity, even though they lead a life different from other Norwegians.

The Sami flag
The Sami flag was designed by Astrid Båhl of Norway and was approved at the 13th Nordic Sami Convention in 1986. The four colours of the Sami flag were taken from traditional colours used in Sami clothing. The flag's circle stands for the sun and the moon, with the red portion stands for the sun and the blue for the moon.
The Sami’s has been trough amount of trouble because of their flag. The major problem in this case is that in the Norwegian’s national day, “17. May” the Sami flag is not allowed to be shown in public sight. This is something the Sami’s has fought for, but has not won, and only the Norwegian national flag is accepted in walk processions. The case is not completely over yet, and the conflict around the flag continues.

Education system
In the Sami culture, school did not exit, because it simple was no need for them to go to school to being able to handle the day life. Children learned what they needed participating in daily living activities with parents or other family members. Under the missionary work, the Sami were forced to go to school, as a part of the Norwegian policy, and this was against their will, both parents and their children of course.

Later, now in these days, materials and school become more available, and the Sami people globalize more with the modern world, the growing need to be able to live and function in a modern technological society makes minority languages and old importance less useful.

The education system in Norway has since 1998 given legal right to education in Sami language, but many has not got it. So, the Sami people have the right to have their education on Sami, but many choose not to, but they have the right.
But as many natives, the old culture and heritage is decreasing, and more natives and indigenous people become more “global” with the rest of the modern world, and more similarities between us becomes the new values, instead of the old, nature-depending and composite habits. Norway is trying their best to preserve the Sami culture today, and “pay up” for earlier mistakes.

The Nordic Sami Council
The Nordic Sami Council was established in 1956 to promote cooperation
among the Sami in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Council has twelve
members, four from each country. Both state authorities and the Nordic
Council have recognized the Sami Council as a legitimate spokesman for
the Sami and have met many of its demands.


Sami people of importance


Ole Henrik Magga (1947-)


Ole Henrik Magga comes from Kautokeino, and he was the first president of the Norwegian Sami Council. Today he is leader of FNs fast forum for indigenous people, which is also the most important international organ for indigenous people. Ole Henrik was professor in Sami language in the Sami College in Kautokeino.

Mari Boine Persen

Mari Boine Persen is a Norwegian Sami musician known for having added jazz and rock to the yoiks of her native people. Mari Boine Persen was born


Aili Keskitalo (1968-)
Aili Keskitalo is Sami Parliament president in Norway. She is from Kautokeino and is today (2006) in her first period as president. Aili is the third Sami Council president. Aili Keskitalo is as well the first woman president.

Nils-Aslak Valkeapää
Nils-Aslak Valkeapää is known as Áillohaš in the Sami language. He was born in March 23, 1943 and he died in November 26, 2001. Nils-Aslak was a Sami writer, musician and artist of Finnish citizenship. His most well known international debut was when he performed at the opening ceremony of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.


Sources
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