Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6: Sami National Day

I’ve been reading about the Sami in Norway this week as part of my research for a feature in an upcoming issue of Viking. By coincidence, it’s the same week that Sami throughout Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia celebrate Sami National Day.

Of the estimated 70,000 Sami in the four countries, more than half live in northern Norway. Nomadic people who can trace their history in northern Scandinavia back 10,000 years, Sami are the northernmost indigenous people in Europe. Among other things in their rich cultural heritage, they are known for their ancient livelihood of herding reindeer, still a source of jobs and income today, and for the folk crafts (duodji), dress (kolt) and music (joik) of their culture.

The Sami flag, designed in 1986 in the vibrant colors of traditional Sami dress, is flying throughout Scandinavia today to commemorate the first joint Sami Congress, held in Trondheim on this date in 1917. Watch for our feature on the Sami in an upcoming issue of Viking magazine.

Ann Pedersen is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in St. Paul, Minn.

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