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Sami culture in Finland

Foreigners who have attended Finnish courses or have been in some museums might have seen the lovely, colorful photos of Sámi culture living in Finland; the images are usually illustrated together with reindeer in Lapland with lots of white snow covering the ground. 

However, Sámi indigenous people don’t live only in Finland but also in Norway, Sweden, and Russia. They also have their own language, culture, traditions, and the right to keep their language by law. This article talks about the Sámi people living in Finland. 

Sami culture in Finland by foreignersinfinland media

Sámi parliament

The Sámi people of Finland are about 8000 who live mainly in Lapland. They have their own culture and language and the right to use it officially for any matter related to authorities. This means that in Finland, by law, the Sámi parliament exists and has been elected by the Sámi people. In this way, the Sámi parliament represents the Sámi people as a self-government and independent political body. The main office of the Sámi parliament is located in a building called Sajos, and people can visit it as well by guided tours.

Sámi language 

Sámi people are indigenous and have their language, which is spoken in Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Russia. These languages are not the same, but they are related and close to each other. The Sámi language, mainly spoken in Finland, is North Sámi. Interestingly, the Finnish system has tried wisely to support and preserve the Sámi language. There are radio shows, TV news and broadcasts, books, and magazines in the Sámi language, as well as the Sámi University of Applied Sciences. However, to keep a language ‘alive,’ there might be the need for more official effort and help and, in practice, to involve more experts in the field together with Sámi people and encourage the new Sámi population to maintain their language. 

Sámi dress 

Everybody is usually amazed by the patterns and colorful traditional clothing of the Sámi people, called Gákti, and it looks very artistically made with precise work of putting together colors, embroidery, collars, decorations, buttons, etc. The traditional Sámi dress contains mainly red, blue, yellow, and green colors or a combination of them. These are colors that are also visible on the Sámi flag.

Sámi flag

As mentioned in the previous section, the Sámi flag contains red, blue, green, and yellow colors with circles and lines including those colors. The flag is very colorful, bright, and vivid, so that easily reminds us about the red of the sun, the blue sky, and the green of nature. The artist Astrid Båhl created the flag and utilized the Sons of the Sun poem to inspire his artistic work. The Páiven párneh, which is the name of this song, is also trying to describe in a creative way the Sámi people as children of the sun, and the circles also help us to imagine the picture of the sun in red color and the moon in the blue. 



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