In general, prejudices and perceptions of the Sámi people are diverse and sometimes hair-raising, especially in southern Finland. Perhaps the Minister of Education and Culture at some point realizes that there is a great big hole in the Finnish educational system. We hope that in the future, Finland’s school system would begin to teach about the Sámi people: the history, way of life and the present situation.
Sámi culture traditions and customs have been well remain, despite Finnish government’s assimilation politics. For example traditional food is still eaten in the time of prepared food. Although nowadays also Sámi people are buying food from store, still the traditional foods (i.a. fish, reindeer meat and berries) and preparation methods are much used. Read more from here.
Reindeer herding is often considered as general Sámi economy. It is true that the reindeers and before that deers have been one of the main pillars of the Sámi economy for a long time. Nowadays the number of reindeer herders has decreased considerably. In part because supportive measures of herding industry has not been sufficient so the reindeer herding isn’t profitable anymore.
A lot of media attention is given to million euro mining projects and they are very often in competition with the traditional reindeer herding. Also, the predatory policy in Finland reduces the profitability of reindeer herding radically. In addition to reindeer herding traditional Sámi livelihoods are fishing, hunting and crafts. However, the Sámi people have learned to write, to sit in offices and drive a car;) Sámi people can do the same job as everybody else.
Today more than half of the Finnish Sámi are living outside the Sápmi, many of them in the metropolitan area – funny, but true Helsinki is Finland’s largest Sámi village. At Helsinki Sámi people has they own association CitySámit, which aims to maintain the identity of the Sámi and the Sámi language.
Position of Samis in Finnish society
The Finnish Sámi Parliament
The Finnish Sámi Parliament supervises the issues around Finnish Samis. The parliament is elected every fourth year. Authorities must be hear the Finnish sámi parliament with the questions dealing the sámi. The Finnish Sámi Parliament produces statements for government department but those letters are not often on reading. Even in accordance with the international laws and contracts, the real hearing- or consultation process doesn’t even now happen between the Finnish Sámi Parliament and Finnish government.
The Finnish Sámi Parliament doesn’t either have actual decision making power for example concerning about sámi traditional lands or about children’s education. Even there have happened very big progresses on sámi position; the modern society brings also many challenges. Assimilation to the majority of the population is still a threat. It is challenging for a minority to hold on with source of livelihood, culture, language and with identity.
The hottest topic at the moment in Sámi issues in Finland is ILO 169 convention. In government programme its ratification is an objective, but for example the president chosen by the Finnish people is against the ratification. ILO 169 is an international ratification convention, which tries to secure indigenous peoples better conditions to practice their traditional livelihoods and to maintain and to develop their language and their culture. Shortly said, it would be a really good thing.
Definition of Sámis
There have also been questions about definitions of Sami ergo whom can be defined as a Sami. Some authorities and directions are complaining of finnish definition for samis which is not admittedly so watertight definition. It is very hard to define who really belong to a certain culture or to group of people. But a threshold should be placed on somewhere.
The Finnish Sámi Parliament has required right for the Samis to define their own cultural people. The matter could be summed up with a question: is it correct that government of Italy or France or any other European country could determine; who is finnish?
A major step forward for the Sami people, would be paying more attention for them in a basic education curriculum. In the current curriculum the Sami people is mentioned only in a general part very strictly and vaguely. In practice, it doesn’t require schools to teach anything about the Sami people – and the Sami children also follow this curriculum! So the Sami children have to go the school where their own culture, language and history are not taken into account in any way, as the Sami people wouldn’t exist. Some have decided that it is more important to learn Greek gods than the Sami mythology. Hopes are high that the ILO-convention would change this.
At the moment the Sami issues, such as a fishing rights and a reindeer herding are determined by others than the Sami people themselves. The Sami self-determination is quite hypocritical, because in reality the Sami people are not allowed to impose itself matters.
Valuable Sámi Culture
In Finland there is three different Sámi language; Northern sámi, Inari sámi and Skolt sámi. Each languge has its own literary language and own orthography. The most frequently used language is Northern Sámi, which is spoken also widely in Sweden and Norway. Inari Sami and Skolt Sami are in difficult positions because there aren’t so much of speakers of the languages. These sami languages have been tried to revive with using language nest actions.
In Finland the Sami have the right to receive service in Sami when dealing with the authorities. In practice it means interpreter and translation services. However contacting in Sami languages occurs only rarely because of only a small part of Finnish authorities know Sami language.
In Finnish Sami region, children and adolescents have the right to get teaching in Sami language. Studying Sami languages is also made possible in second degree schools and also in University. The highest responsible of the education of Sami language and culture has Giellagas-institute in the University of Oulu.
Nowadays there is wide range of Sami literature and Sami media YLE Sápmi provides news and many other programs for Sámi-audience in Finland.
Sami popular culture
Alongside the traditional Sami culture today has also risen modern popular culture. Current young Sámi artists are combining westerners popular culture to the ancient sami traditions. From the Sami culture can be found a comprehensive range of movies, literature and visual arts as well music from rock to hip-hop.
Sami art multi-talent Nils-Aslak Valkeapää is a huge inspirational person for today’s sami artists. Deceased Valkeapää is considered as a pathfinder of Sami culture in whole Sami region. He helped with strengthen the Sami identity especially in 60-80 centuries, when the Sami culture was threatened to assimilate into the majority culture.
Today’s famous Sami Artists in Finland:
Wimme vocal multi-talent combines traditional yoik to modern electronic music rhythms. Wimme is known all over the world and his most recent album Mun (2009) was recognized with a finnish Teosto-prize in year of 2009.
Niillas Holmberg is a multi-artist who has published ia. book of Sami poems Dego livččen oaidnan iežan in year 2010 and he has also own duo-band called Niillas Holmberg & Roope Mäenpää, published album Manin guottán girjjii fárus in year of 2011.
Amoc is a rap-artist, who has made history by publishing the first Inari Sami rap-album Amok-kaččâm in year of 2007.
SomBy North Sámi rockband has earned reputation around the Nordic countries and in Middle-Europe. 2009 appeared Ii iđit vel-song ranked in the official Finnish single chart and won a song part of an annual Sami song- and yoik contest Sami Grand Prix.
Ailu Valle is a North Sámi rap-artist whom debut album Dušši dušše duššat appears in autumn 2012. His lyrics take a stand with the Finnish society and at the same time lyrics are respectful with nature and the tradional lifestyle of Sami.
Tiina Sanila Band performs skolt sami rock music. Album “Sää´mjânnam rocks!” appeared in summer of 2005. In summer of 2006 their single “Uuh” reached the third place of official Finnish single chart. At the present time band is on a break.
Ánnámáret Ensemble’s production is a blend of folk, pop and classical music. The band is assembled of different professionals of folk music. The band first album ”Bealljecinat – Earrings” was published in 2011.
Vilddas has played north sami world music from 1997. They published their third album “Silbabárut – Silver Waves” in 2012. Vilddas has performed around the Finland and abroad.
Folk group Angelit plays rhythmic yoikmusic and they have published their first album early in 1992. They have earned reputation all over the world.