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The Sámi People: Heritage & Language. Who are the Sámi and where do they live? They now live in the north of Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula, in Norway,

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Presentation on theme: "The Sámi People: Heritage & Language. Who are the Sámi and where do they live? They now live in the north of Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula, in Norway,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Sámi People: Heritage & Language

2 Who are the Sámi and where do they live? They now live in the north of Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula, in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia; their lands are called Sápmi; also known as Lappland Previously lived in a larger territory, covering much of Scandinavia and as far South as Lake Ladoga in Russia Retreated under pressure from Germanic, Balto- Finnic and Slavonic peoples 15th-16th c



5 Genetic heritage of the Sámi Unique genetic profile in Europe Many conflicting theories, none of which is conclusive Early studies concentrated on measurements, and are considered rather primitive and racist It seems likely that the Sámi have been in Northern Europe for several thousand years

6 The Sámi languages

7 Linguistic heritage of the Sámi The Sámi language belongs to the Finno-Ugrian branch of the Uralic language family (which also contains Samoyed) The closest linguistic relative is Finnish The racial differences between the Sámi and the Finns have motivated various controversial theories about this relationship (e.g., did the Sámi once speak a more distantly related Uralic language, such as Samoyed?)


9 Dialects and numbers of speakers Note that not all Sámi speak the language Speakers of contiguous dialects usually understand each other, but people from more distant dialects have a hard time communicating There are three dialect groups: Northern, Southern, and Eastern Estimates for dialects are rough (no official statistics, and cross state borders)




13 Dialects and numbers of speakers, cont’d. Northern Sámi dialect group (in Northern Norway, with some in Sweden & Finland) –Northern Sámi: 30,000 (75% of all Sámi speakers) –Pite Sámi: 20 –Lule Sámi: 2,000 Southern Sámi dialect group (central Norway & Sweden) –Southern Sámi: 500 –Ume Sámi: 20

14 Dialects and numbers of speakers, cont’d. Eastern Sámi dialect group (Northern Norway, Finland, Russia) –Inari Sámi: 400 (Finland) –Skolt Sámi: 300 (Norway & Russia) –Kildin Sámi: 800 (only Sámi spoken in Russia with a written form) –Akkala Sámi: 8 (Russia) –Ter Sámi: 6 (Russia)

15 Countries and numbers of speakers Norway: as many as 40,000 ethnic Sámi, and perhaps 20,000 speakers Sweden: about 17,000 ethnic Sámi, and 5,000 speakers Finland: about 6,500 ethnic Sámi, and 3,000 speakers Russia: about 2,000 ethnic Sámi, and less than 1,000 speakers

16 Support for Sámi language Best support is in Norway, with best financing Education is the most important factor, and can stimulate improvements in language use among adults also The greatest problem is the shortage of teachers

17 History of Sámi language education Protestant and Orthodox missionary activities, especially in 15th-19thc During missionary period, Sámi boys were educated in their own language (in Lycksele Sweden and Trondheim Norway) so that they could conduct missionary work among their people Sámi education was the responsibility of the church

18 History of Sámi language education, cont’d. In 18th c local schools established in Norway and Sweden, but these were in conflict with nomadic Sámi lifestyle From mid-19th c there was intense Norwegianization and children were taken to boarding schools Intense Norwegian assimilation policy in place until 1959, but practiced into the 1970s

19 History of Sámi language education, cont’d. In Sweden the language of education depended upon the majority language and there were special nomad schools Finland never pursued an assimilation policy Sámi joined the resistance against German occupation and were more appreciated after WWII

20 History of Sámi language education, cont’d. Norway: –1959: Use of Sámi as a secondary teaching language is legalized –1969: Use of Sámi with children of Sámi- speaking parents is legalized –1975: Use of Sámi as both first and second language in education is legalized

21 History of Sámi language education, cont’d. Sweden: –1950s Sámi language classes introduced as a subject in the nomad schools –1964 Sámi lower secondary school established in Gällivare Finland: –Early 1970s use of Sámi in schools, but it was never previously forbidden either

22 Sámi language education today Norway: –Situation is best, but there is a shortage of qualified Sámi teachers –In 1994/95 1,698 children received education in Sámi Sweden: –In 1992 123 students received education in Sámi, and only in the nomad schools Finland –In 1993, about 600 children received education in Sámi Russia –In 1992, 217 students went to the only school with Sámi, but they came from several ethnicities and Russian was the lingua franca

23 Education about and in Sámi In Norway, Sweden, and Finland, there are special Sámi areas where schooling in and through Sámi is provided Sámi education outside of those areas is restricted, and virtually all of it is about Sámi, not in Sámi Approximately 50% of the Sámi people live outside the designated Sámi areas

24 Sámi language in higher education Sami programs at universities are mostly located outside Sámi homeland –Sweden, Umea U Sámi chair since 1974 –Sámi courses offered within Finno-Ugrian linguistics in Uppsala and Oslo, and at Helsinki –Norway, Tromsoe U Sámi chair since 1986 –Finland U of Lapland Sámi Lecturer since 1979; Sámi department in U of Oulu –All these locations have library holdings, and there is an international cooperative Nordic Sámi Bibliography project

25 Sámi Peoples’ High Schools These exist in Norway, Sweden, and Finland They are boarding schools for adults and focus on Sámi language, history, culture,and traditional crafts

26 Sámi media Books: –The majority of books have been produced in Norway since 1976, but there is a shortage of textbooks Newspapers: –Eight newspapers have been published in Norway since 1873 and all are now subsidized –A few monthly magazines are also published in Norway, Sweden, and Finland

27 Sámi media, cont’d. Radio and TV –Norway, Sweden, and Finland all have broadcasts in Sámi, and in the majority languages about Sámi issues –Broadcasts are nearly all in Northern Sámi, though NRK has some programming in Southern and Lule Sámi

28 Sámi literature 1906 Isak Saba Sámi soga lávlla, declared the Sámi national anthem in 1986 1910 Johan Turi Tale of the Sámi (a novel) 1912 Anders Larsen Daybreak (a novel) 1915 Pedar Jalvi Snowflakes (collection of stories and poems) Still the output of Sámi literature in 20th c was very low until 1970s

29 Sámi theater Sámi protest against the Alta dam project in late 1970s led to establishment of Beaivváš Sámi Teáhter in 1981 and Sámi theater organization for Norway, Sweden, and Finland Dramas based on Sámi mythology, history, and folk tales, plus international repertoire

30 Signs in public places Both Norway and Finland have Language Acts requiring bilingual signage, but this is often lacking even in core Sámi areas In Norway, Sámi signposts are often destroyed and petitions against use of Sámi are presented regularly


32 Sámi language standardization Early attempts (17th c) to create a standard focused on Lule and Ume dialects of Sámi and were unsuccessful Knut Leem (missionary) created a Northern Sámi grammar (1748), a small dictionary (1768), and a big dictionary in Sámi-Latin-Danish (1781)

33 Sámi language standardization, cont’d. Leem (and other pioneers) used letter combinations for Sámi sounds not present in Scandinavian languages 1832 Danish linguist Rasmus Rask created five new letters for Sámi: (p. 67) 1840 Nils Stockfleth added three letters to Sámi alphabet: ž, č, š 1887 Jens Friis further updated Sámi alphabet

34 Sámi language standardization, cont’d. 1913 Konrad Nielsen created new phonetic spelling for Sámi, used in his 1926-29 handbook and 1932-62 big dictionary -- these were standard works for most of 20th c, only recently replaced 1948 Norway & Sweden agreed to use a common alphabet based on Nielsen’s work, but Finland adapted Friis’ alphabet to Finnish orthography 1978 Norway, Sweden & Finland agree on a common orthography

35 Sámi language standardization, cont’d. A literary standard has been developed for Lule Sámi since 1890, and a common Lule Sámi orthography has been used in Norway and Sweden since 1983 There has been relatively little (or no) development of literary standards for the remaining Sámi dialects In Russia, Latin alphabet was used in 1933-35, and since then Cyrillic

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