The Sámi are Lapland's indigenous people. There are some 75,000 Sámi people, inhabiting a vast area - called 'Sapmi' in the Sámi language - that stretches all the way from central Norway and Sweden, across the far north of Finland and well into Russia's Kola peninsula. The Sámi people are historically semi-nomadic, however today the Sámi mostly live in permanent residents. Although the decendents of the ancient Sámi live modern lives with all the amenities you would expect, they still very much treasure their heritage and special events such as the Sámi national day (February 6th) and Jokkmokk winter market (February, Swedish Lapland) allow the opportunity to celebrate their traditional dress and practices.
See our gallery below for fascinating photographs of these indigenous people. You can also learn more about the Sámi way of life and experience Lapland for yourself (including the Northern Lights!) on our Aurora Hunter holiday.
Sámi Photo Gallery
Sámi Fact: in Sámi languages there are some 400 names for reindeer, according to gender, age, colour, etc.
Sámi Fact: The Sámi national dress, or Gakti, though instantly recognisable and predominantly red, yellow and blue, actually differs from one area to another, thus identifying where the wearer's family comes from.
Sámi Fact: Traditionally, the Sámi lived in a group of families called a siida. Today, the nuclear family is the basic social unit amonthe Sámi and families are close-knit with a great deal of attention paid to the children.
Sámi Fact: The Sámi divide the year into eight seasons, not four, based on the reindeer herding cycle
Sámi Fact: The ancient Sámi had a strong tradition of drum use in their spiritual rituals. By hammering the ceremonial drum, the noaidi, or shaman, beat out a rhythm that inspired ecstatic excitation. This then allowed the shaman to acheive a trance state in which a free soul may leave the body and take on another form outside of the person. The noadis could reach this state at will and the people depended on them for guidance.
If we have sparked your interest in the Sámi people, you can discover more when visiting the Sámi museum in the heart of the Lapland wilderness on our Aurora Hunter tour.
Photographs courtesy of the Majatalo hotel and Swedish and Finnish tourist boards.