I have mentioned in earlier posts that my paternal ancestors have some Saami overlap in our Swedish heritage. I’ve long held a strong interest in my Swedish roots. I only had the standard maps of Europe and Scandinavia for reference during my childhood studies of the family’s Swedish ancestry. The maps illustrated the portions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia as an area without formal borders. The region was dubbed “Lappland” or “Lapland”. These days, the term, “Lappland” is considered to be offensive or misleading. These days, this region of the north is called, “Sápmi” by the indigenous people.
Today is Saami National Day in Norway, Sweden, and Finland where Sápmi exists. Today is the anniversary of the first Saami congress that took place in Trondeim, Norway in 1917. The parliaments are needed in part, because of the difficulties presented by contemporary national borders that divide Sápmi.
Three Saami parliaments work together as a sort of organization that advocates for Saami cultural autonomy. Russia does not recognize the Saami as a legal minority, so that country doesn’t recognize any Saami congressional body. That said, the three legal Saami parliaments are overseen by their respective Scandinavian governments meaning they exert little if any political influence.
There are continuing disputes between indigeneous reindeer herders and landowners of regular farmland in the Sápmi lands, so the parliaments are important as buffers for the disagreements.
Today, though, the Saami are celebrating their heritage. Events officially commence with the raising of the Saami flag accompanied by the singing of the anthem according to local dialects. The fun loving Saami enjoy music, talks, outdoor markets, art and sports.
Many of the Norwegian Saami love to compete in or watch reindeer sprint racing. In Sweden, Northern Europe’s most grand winter festival takes place with a large market, music, and arts. Local crafts are a major feature of the festivities. Finland hosts seminars and conferences about Saami issues. Saami history is a big part of many of the gatherings. Likewise, in Russian Sápmi, culture and talks predominate the day. Theatre productions, featuring Saami history, are enjoyed.
Today is a good day for non-Saami people to reflect on the struggles of the Saami and other indigenous peoples of earth and to celebrate the people and their cultures.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes to sing “Sámi Soga Lávlla” (Song Of The Saami Family), the anthem of the peoples.