The Sami culture

The Sami is the indigenous people of Sápmi, the land that stretches over the northern part of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. The two different names on the road signs around here – in Sami and Swedish – is probably the first you’ll notice. Every village has their own Sami name, such as Suorssá, Drahkie and Geavtse.

The Sami year has eight different seasons ranging from Gijrra, spring, when the reindeer calves are born; to Gijrradálvvie, spring winter, when the reindeer returns to have their calves. The reindeer is a migrating animal, going from the mountains to the coast and back again. The Sami used to be a nomadic people, following the reindeer to the coast and back again. It naturally follows that the reindeer is central to the Sami culture. It might even be described as fundamental to it: the art, the stories, the mythology. The living conditions, comfort and food. Everything from the reindeer was used; nothing was to go to waste – you don’t throw away the most valuable you got. The expertise has grown out of a necessity to preserve: the blood was dried to be easily packed, the muffle cooked. Steaks and entrails alike, for feast and everyday use. Skin for clothes and antlers for crafting and decorating.

Reindeer husbandry is what’s most commonly associated with the Sami, and surely, there are reindeers here – this is the most reindeer dense area in Sweden. Sometimes they come in many, and sometimes you only see a couple of them, depending on season. There are two Sami villages, Ran and Gran, who has their grazing, calving and migrating lands right here.

The arts and crafts of the Sami are also a living cultural heritage. Either it is the unique expression of the yoik, traditional Sami singing, or the craftsmanship of working with leather, tin thread embroideries, colorful felt fabrics, roots and bones among other materials, are spectacular.

There are different ways to experience Sami cultur. Either you follow one of our entrepreneurs who actively work with their heritage, either it is crafts, food, storytelling or all of the above. Or you could visit Ammarnäs village where the Sami history is most present.