Our Sápmi

Sápmi is the Arctic region in which the indigenous Sámi live – and yet we are not allowed to rule our land. Centuries ago, Scandinavian kings and the Russian tsar seized control of this area. As a result, Sápmi is fragmented into four areas, under the domain of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Nevertheless, we Sámi see the Sápmi as our united homeland. It extends from Hedmark County in the south of Norway to the Kola Peninsula in the north of Russia.

Sámi culture is rich and many-faceted. Did you know that there are numerous Sámi dialects or languages? The main ones in Norway are Northern Sámi, Lule Sámi and Southern Sámi. These diverged because of different influences and the vast distances within the Sápmi. In a dozen municipalities, one of these is the official language, together with Norwegian.

Sámi groups have adjusted to modern life in different ways. Yet in our diversity, we are still one. We all share a deep respect for the deep bond between humanity and nature.

Preserving this balance is vital to our way of life. We who live here are mindful of the land and sea that provide our livelihood. That is why we reap the harvests of Mother Nature respectfully and with gratitude – never wasting, and never taking more than we need. For thousands of years, Sápmi has nourished and nurtured us, providing everything we require. In the mists of time we came here, following the tracks of the reindeer. We still do, even in extreme weather and harsh seasons. The modern Sámi use mobile phones and snowmobiles, but that does not mean we have forgotten our heritage or who we are.

Sadly, in recent centuries we have lost many of our ancestors’ vibrant traditions and much of their vital knowledge. Our vision for the future is to reclaim this knowledge, and to re-enliven and renew once-proud Sámi traditions. We who live here in Sápmi wish to see our culture strengthened, and to ensure that nature is sustainable and in balance. We live in intimate contact with the land that surrounds us, and with our Sámi heritage. 

We wish to share our rich heritage with you. Doing so is a way for us to honour our beloved Sápmi – and it is our gift to the world we all share today.

This is why we are so grateful for your visit. Through your open-mindedness you honour Mother Nature and the Sámi culture – which here in Sápmi are two sides of the same coin. 

Bures boahtin! Buorre boahtem! Buerie båeteme!


Norway map showing the Sápmi area
Faksimile: KK
Magazine front page with Sami artist