The Sámi Of The North

By | November 20, 2019

test article image
The Sámi collecting reindeer. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

The Sámi people of the shores of the Arctic Ocean are best known to the outside world for their practice of reindeer herding. The Sámi are still mostly known to outsiders as the Lapps or Laplanders and have for centuries tried to preserve their culture in an ever-shrinking world. Their future as a culture is still in doubt.

test article image
A map of Sámi regions. Source: (Wikipedia)

The Sámi live in the far north of Europe with a territory that overlaps areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. This area is referred to as Sápmi. The Sámi are ethnically, linguistically, and culturally separate from the Scandinavians to the south. Their most ancient origins are unknown but archaeological evidence shows them living on the coast of the Arctic Ocean some 10,000 years ago.

The oldest written reference to the Sámi comes from the Roman historian Tacitus who called them the Fenni. According to him, they traveled on skis, hunted reindeer, and were cloaked in furs. The Sámi, however, have not passed on their own story since their traditions have been entirely oral.