Image from Kroktjärnvallen, close to the western border of Glen Sami community.
A brief summary.
In the texts on these pages you'll find references to several Sami groups. Even though the Sami's
are one people that share a common past, there has been a lot of differentiation over the ages.
The Sami's are not such a homogeneous group one could be made to believe after reading some of the descriptions found in english literature and on some websites.
Those who have looked carefully at the images on these pages where Sami's wear traditional clothes, might have noted that there's quite a variety. This might be the most obvious difference, yet there's several others as in the traditional cultural expressions such the handicraft and in the various forms of "singing" ie: the joik.
The Sami language also differs quite a lot from area to area, and when one person travels from one end of the Sami nation to the other the difference gets that large that the dialects gets mutually incomprehensible.
Since the Scandinavian languages Danish, Norwegian and Swedish is considered to be separate languages, it is not wrong to
talk about different Sami languages as well since the differences is larger than among those three Scandinavian ones.
One colour is given for each of the Sami groups.
Dotted areas shows the wintergrazing lands for
reindeers, note that the forestlands are used around
the year by some of the Pite and Umje Sami's.
Some scientists divide the Sami into three groups, North, South and Eastern Sami's.
We've chosen to use this way of classification even though this way of defining is based on similaritys
in the languages alone, but hopefully it makes understanding easier.
Northeastern part of Kola peninsula in Russia, very
small group. Language on the brink of extinction.
No educational material or facilities.
Participates in culture exchange programs with
Kola peninsula, culturally quite strong, have dances.
There are a few separate lessons each day in grade school,
but educational materials are scarce.
Participates in culture exchange programs with Scandinavian
Cultural center in Lovozero, middle of Kola peninsula.
Western part of the Kola peninsula in Russia and northeastern
Finland. Reclusive forestSami culture, have preserved dances,
language status endangered, strong traditions but one of
the smallest Sami groups.
No separate educational system but some use educational
facilities together with the two other Sami groups of the area,
but few textbooks are available in the language.
Russian Skolt Sami's participates in culture exchange programs
with Scandinavian Sami's.
Traditional center: Petsamo region, Russia.
Cultural center: Nortern side of lake Enari, (Sevettijärvi) Finland
Many Skolt was relocated to Finland during and
after WWII, when Finland lost the Petsamo area.
Northeastern Finland. Small but culturally strong group,
some characteristics makes them look similar to the
north Sami's while the dialect have lot in common with the Skolt's
language, compare with the description of the Pite Sami below.
No separate educational system but some use educational
facilities together with the two other Sami groups of the area.
Cultural center: Enare, Finland
Finnish "Lapland", up to the northernmost islands in
|Dark Green: Davvi- or North Sami.|
Norway to middle Norrbotten in Swedens "Lapland".
Largest Sami group, with many speakers of the langauge.
Cultural traditions is also strong in several areas such as
chanting and handicraft.
Have separate educational institutions in several locations.
Several newspapers is published in the language and
daily radio broadcasts in the language through public
service radio channels in the Scandinavian countries.
Many books and records are published each year in this language.
The Sami parliament in Sweden is also located within the
Several cultural centers, example: Karasjokk, Kautokeino.
Along the northern and northwestern part of the Norwegian coast,
Some belongs to the NorthSami group whereas others belong to the
Historically sea-Sami's was found along the Norwegian coast further
to the south to present day Trøndelag, those later is sometimes
referred to as "Bufinner", also in the archipelago of the Gulf of Botnia in
Sweden but few remains of these and is not shown on the map.
Education in part at the existing Sami institutions with existing material
in the North and Lule Sami languages, also locally such as at the
language center in Manndalen. Have a cultural institution in Kåfjord,
Cultural centers: Several fjords along the Norwegian cost.
Example: Kåfjord, Tysfjord and Varangerfjord.
Mountain and ForestSami culture in Norway and Sweden, many
famous handicrafters and chanters from this group, language is
locally quite strong.
Separate educational institutions with several textbooks in the
but not for all subjects teached.
A small number of books are published each year in this language.
Traditional and present day cultural center: Jokkmokk, Sweden.
Mid-eastern part of Swedish Lapland, Between Saltenfjord and Ranenfjord
in Norway. Non or semi-nomadic Sami culture, sometimes ambiguously
referred to as "Forest Sami's". Very small group, language on the
brink of extinction. No textbooks in the language, some uses teaching
material in the Lule Sami language.
The absence of schools and educational material has historical reasons.
The "Nomadic schools" was created for the nomadic Sami's so this
group have been discriminated against even in the area of education.
A local Pite-Sami society exist in Bodø Norway.
Cultural center: Arvidsjaur, Sweden.
Some scientists wants to place this group together with
the Southsami whereas others consider it to belong
to the North-Sami group.
Since the Pitesami's is located between these two there's
no wonder that one can find characteristics from both.
Southsami subgroup, mountain Sami's of Swedish Lapland and
Mid-northern Norway. Culturally quite strong with many good
handicrafters but the language-dialect endagered.
Several educational facilities in Norway and native boarding
school in Sweden, educational material in the dialect exists
for a few subjects only.
Cultural centers: Hattfjelldal Norway, Tärnaby Sweden.
Traditional center: Fatmomakke Sweden (still used).
Southsami's of Middle Sweden and Norway.
|Dark blue: Åarjel or SouthSami.|
Culturally quite strong, language comparatively strong
in Norway, weaker and endagered in Sweden.
Boardingschool and educational facilities in Norway.
No separate educational institutions in Sweden in grade-
school or highschool.
Traveling teachers holds a few extra lessons a week
with textbooks imported from Norway but teach only
for those who chooses it as a elective subject.
Higher education at the Sami institute at the university of
Umeå in Sweden.
One monthly publication Samefolket (The Sami people)
is made in the Southsami area.
A few books are published in Norway each year on various
subjects, some material in the native language.
Cultural center: Snåsa Norway.
Traditional center: Aangkere Sweden (still used).
In all Sami areas described for Sweden and Finland one can also find
|Hunting and Fishing Sami's.|
Sami's who aren't members of the reindeer keeping communities.
These are adherent to the local culture and language of each area
and should be seen as part of each language and cultural group.
Also not to be confused with the SeaSami's of Norway, especially
since many lives far from the sea.
|Sami's outside the traditional lands.|
In all four countries you can find Sami's outside the
area shown on the map above.
This has two reasons, the Sami people have been
forced to the north by the colonization of the Sami
A few choose to stay and managed to keep parts of
their culture but these can only be found in a few sparse
Some have also moved in search of work
so today an significant part of the Sami population
can be found outside the Sami core area, also in
the major cities such as in Stockholm and Oslo.
-There's a joke among the Sami's that Stockholm is
the largest Sami colony in the world.
Or to put it differently if you don't get the pun:
-That the colonizers have been colonized. | )
Follow the link "Sami's in the far south" below to read a
short historical essay on Sami's who lived outside the area which
today is considered to be the native area of Sweden.
Sami's in the far south.
To the circumpolar perspective page.
Last change: March 22, 1998.
Images: Copyright©, Boreale 1997 1998, mirror of this page found at the Samefolket website.