Suoma Sami Nuorat.
Protest against the exploitation of Sami culture.
Subtitle: Wilderness trips from one day to over a week.
For the Sami, the traditional clothing is an everyday expression of ethnicity (or togetherness) which differs from the clothing of neighbouring cultures.
But let's move on and see how this is presented in the tourist brochures.
This Sami clothing might be an exotic experience for others, but what the tourist tycoons presents is misinforming.
Giving an image of the Sami people as a mysterious, shamanistic people who live in a sort of teepee's, transporting themself around "Lapland" with sledges pulled by reindeers and practitising all kinds of rituals in every possible occation. This is the stereotyped image that the Finnish tourism gives of Sami's.
But that is only part of the story, some of the dolls and images here are obvious distortions and some obviously are ment to make fun of the Sami's, to be the target of ridicule can mean life-long departures from Sami roots -for example in the case of Sami youth at a sensitive age. And no doubt this exploitation has very dramatic effects on the Sami culture as a whole as well.
From "Santa's news", a newspaper format tourist advertisment describing all "cultural" and sport activitys offered in Rovaniemi.
On the editorial page is a presentation and welcome text by
the Municipal Manager (Or "Mayor") of Rovaniemi Mauri Gardin.
Omitted presentation of company
You can come to Eräsetti for a quick reindeer or dog team ride or motor sledge trip.
Our longer safaris takes several days, so you get better aquainted with the beautiful wilderness and culture of Lapland.
"Don't hesitate to walk in even without a prior reservation and to ask if we could arrange a reideer ride for example. Most likely are we able to arrange it." promises Tejja from Eräsetti.
One of the most popular experiences offered by Eräsetti is crossing the Arctic circle and the the exciting ceremony of crossing the arctic circle, which throws light on the ancient Lappish mysticism and legends.
Please note that the arctic-circle is an arbitrary set line with no special features, it's not even a limit for where the midnight sun can be seen, in fact you can experience it in locations 100 miles south. Neither does it have any special significance in Sami mythology or spirituality.
From: "Travel Rovaniemi"
A full colour 40 page presentation of Rovaniemi -ditributed free by among others- the Finnish tourist board.
Title on page 14: Santa claus song festival.
The Santa Claus song festival can be seen around the world on television.
Each participating country sends one child bringing special greetings by singing a song to the festival.
Annika Asplund in her beautiful Lapp dress performed last year, passing on greetings from Finland via her song.
From brochure for the "Magic snowball" themepark.
"The winter night journey begins with the sound of the forest silence -to the snowy fairy-tale land.
Torches and candles illuminate the trail, Be prepared for surprises when your charismatic guide -the Lappish man with his reindeer lead you up to the open air theatre.
The Lappish man will enchant you with the traditional lyric poems and the Magic Snow Ball experience will begin to roll.
The program offers the wery best of Lapland: Visual fantasia, a rhytmic , musical performance during witch elves dance the tango, snowdance, snowmen and Rudolf the rednosed Reindeer have a joyful time the mystical sound of the saw quitens the listeners and everyone joins in the singing of the Snow Queen."
This is the image the Finnish tourist industry want their visitors to have of their native population!
Postcard with image of one of the Finnish persons who impersonates a Sami shaman, note that the person is wearing dirty clothes and have a filthy face as well. Facial expression best left undescribed. The text simply says "lappi" =Lappish (person) and Lapland.
Photo by Kuvasuomi OY (Kuvasuomi Incorporated).
Finns emulating the Sami culture, a fraud for the tourist -trampling the Sami nation.
Finnish girl in traditional Sami dress on her way to the fake "shamanistic" ceremony about crossing polar circle.
Please note that she is so unknowing of the culture she is misrepresenting that she have mixed elements from the male and female
Photo: Aanta Forsgren
Set of playingcards from Harri Mukonen Ky.
Among these one can find images depicting Sami's as drunk and filthy people and perhaps most insulting one -the Noaidie =shaman (or ~spiritual leader) as a deranged drugabuser getting his visions by eating flyagaric -note those red toadstools surrounding the head in the image.
December 14 & 15 1996.
Sami's from the Sami core area in 3 countries
and organisations gather to protest in Rovaniemi.
Sami's demonstrating outside one of the shops at Santa Claus themepark.
Photo Aanta Forsgren.
Wille Lehtivirta aged 12 was the youngest participant in the protest, and in fact one year to young to be a member of SSN.
Yet he obviously will be a dedicated member next year, he was so engaged in distributing leaflets that he ruined the first photo running after a group of tourists. On the second attempt though i was able to get this image of him. ;)
Kati Eriksen (chairman of SSN) talks to Japanese tourists.
Photo Aanta Forsgren.
Sara-Marja Gaup explains the Sami's view for a British tourist.
Photo Aanta Forsgren.
After the protest there was a wave articles as well as letters to the editor in the local newspapers, some contained views that are best described as racistic. The webmaster of this site replied to some of those in a text which we also provide online here: Finnish text.
So what is it that's sold at the Santa Claus themepark? Some information can be obtained here.
Update, March 1999
So did the protests change anything?!? No it's "Business as usual..."
Have closer look on the text at the small billboard for this company by clicking on the following thumbnail image:
Already in frames? Choose this link.