the Sami and Siida

Part of my ongoing research into my Finnish ethnology has been learning more about the other groups in the Finno-Ugrian family of people. The Sami (formerly called Lapps) of Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and Northwest Russia are one group and they have a wonderful centre, Siida***, located in Inari in Finnish Lapland.

Siida is the home of the Sami Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre, both a meeting place and an exhibition centre devoted to the Sami culture and the nature of the far north. It includes an open-air museum begun in 1960 and restored in 2000. There are many interesting pages to explore and learn, for example, that this is the oldest area in Northern Lapland inhabited by people and that some archaeological findings from the area are from 9,000 years ago. People have lived there as early as the prehistoric times, the Stone Age and the Early Metal Age, about 6,000 -2,000 years ago.

Like many indigenous people around the world, the Sami have been actively reviving their ancient culture and this centre offers many events celebrating it and others, for themselves and for visitors. One of this summer’s visiting exhibitions is from Hokkaido: The Ainu and the World of Gods. (I happened to write about the Ainu a while ago.)

The Calendar Archive lists the rich variety of past events. Skolt Sami includes a digital slide show with narration about the wartime evacuation and settlement of this group of displaced peoples. The annual Skabmagovat Reflections of the Endless Night Festival in January 2004 is interesting – click on “Northern Lights Theatre” (left sidebar) which is made entirely of snow and lit with real candles. The coldest shows have taken place at -40C! Then click on “Animation” and see the Aurora.

More about the Sami.

***March 21st, 2012: These links have been updated. Some of the mentioned pages are no longer at their specified locations after nine years, I’m sorry to say, but do search around the site if interested.

June 15, 2004 in Ethnicity, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric, History, Rock Art & Archaeology by Marja-Leena