SAMI IN FINLAND
xx-xx-xxxx
http://www.uoc.es/euromosaic/web/document/sami/an/i1/i1.html
Research Centre of Wales
Version française
Sami in Finland

Introduction

Despite treating the Sami in Finland as a single language group, it should be borne in mind that local linguistic varieties are mutually non-intelligible; that one group of speakers only recently moved into Finland; and that the Sami in northern Scandinavia have close relationships across borders. It is therefore incorrect to describe the Sami as a social group in a sociological sense, as they belong to several societies and states. The Sami transcend individual language groups. 'Northern Sami' is spoken by 70-80% of Sami-speakers, but the Sami are distinguished from the non-Sami: at the subjective level, by more than language, the concepts of 'us' and 'them' set boundaries of inclusion and exclusion, a critical aspect of Sami existence.

General Information on the language group

1.1 Linguistic, geographic and economic description

The Sami inhabit an area between the Kola peninsula in Russia to the north of Finland, Norway and Sweden, astride the Kolen mountains south to Trondheim in Norway and to Idre in Sweden. In Finland the Sami region consists of thenorthern part of the province of Lapland, defined in a 1973 statute as consisting of the communes of Utsjoki, Inari and Enotnekio and the herding cooperative in the northern part of the commune of Sodankyla. This area covers 35,000 km 2, that is, 36% of the province and about 10% of Finland.

The population of the area (22,568) displays indicators of deprivation: net out-migration; very high levels of single parent families (16.6%), high incidence of maintenance (106% receive them), living and unemployment allowances. Unemployment figures for the Sami territory stands at 26- 33%, and long term unemployment at 12-29%. Among those aged under 25 the unemployment rate is 39-60%. The average income is considerably lower than the average for Finland. The population, depressed and marginalised, is subject to exclusion. The economy is unable to sustain the population, and out-migration, mainly to neighbouring regions and to the industrial core of Finland, - which affects especially women - is understandably high.

Even though state intervention is decreasing and the public sector is being restructured, public sector employment is high. The services sector employs almost two-thirds of the 7,242 economically active; a further quarter is unemployed, and only about 8% are employed in other sectors, mainly exploiting natural resources. A quarter of the land is classified as waste land, 20% is scrub land, and the remaining 53% is forest. Two-thirds of the land classified as 'forested' is State-owned. Under 10% work in manufacturing. Central government employs 7,848 in 300 establishments (8.0%) in the Lapland region, local authorities employ 18,311 in 1,950 establishments. Most enterprises have under four employees. Only in the 'agriculture. forestry, hunting'; 'manufacturing', the utilities and 'finance' activities is this average exceeded, though there are very few large enterprises in the area. Outside the main town, Rovaniemi (population over 60,000), both the size of enterprise and the range of activities are smaller.

About 11,500 live in the Sami territory in northern Lapland. About a third are Sami. In only a few communities is a majority of the population still Sami. About 80% of the Sami in Finland are North or Mountain Sami (including the Reindeer and the River Sami). Mountain Sami can be found in every Sami parish in Finland. In Inari there are two linguistically distinct groups of Sami – the Inari (or Lake) Sami and the Skolts or East Sami. Each are about 500 strong.

In and out-migration was very strong in the 1960s and 1970s, when employment in Finland was high. This lowered the percentage of Sami in the region. About 1,500 Sami live elsewhere in Finland and about 500 outside Finland. While the population in the Sami region has changed little in recent years, considerably more live outside the region. Most Sami in the region live in Inari, the crossing point of the Sami groups. Utsjoki is the only commune where most inhabitants are Sami. In Sodankyla most Sami live in the northern village of Vuotsu where they are a majority.

The economic activity rate among the Sami is lower (40-43% across the administrative units) than the Lapland total (48%). Since subsistence activities of Sami men are classified as 'home working', this affects the activity rate, the division of labour within the Sami economy, and contributes to a high rate (8-14%) of involvement in household work. The seasonal nature of 'subsistence' activities classifies men as either unemployed or outside the labour force. Women increasingly tend to be in permanent employment, usually in high skilled and remunerated service activities. Locally male activities still carry high status. Such activities are the main defining criteria of Sami identity among males, marking them off from the non-Sami.

Subsistence activities involve fishing, trapping, gathering and some reindeer herding. They are significant given the high unemployment in the area; and reduce the burden on state welfarism. Strong resistance to the commercialisation of these activities is due to the fear that outsiders will take advantage of such developments, and to the danger of commercialisation upsetting the balance between resource reproduction and market demand. This has been formalised through the Sami Environmental Programme ratified at the 13th Sami Conference (1996), showing that concern with environmental sustainability overlaps with the Sami's long-standing conception of nature and resource exploitation.

Fully a third of the 1,534 Sami are still officially employed in 'agriculture'; almost a quarter in 'services', and almost a quarter in construction and the retail sector. However, these figures do not take account of pluri-activity, nor of the important subsistence activities outside the formal labour market. Nevertheless they stress the importance of the primary sector and the reliance on the service sector. Trade and commerce is important in Ustjoki because of trans-frontier trade. Finally, changes involving mechanisation are often prohibitively expensive for the Sami.

Sami reindeer herds now only travel between winter and summer pastures, so institutional activities are needed to ensure contact across Sami groups. Some marriages between Swedish and Finnish Sami occur, usually on a patrilocal basis. A special agreement with the EU excludes reindeer herding from the general conditions of deregulation. Reindeer herds are limited in size and herding is strictly controlled and centrally organised. Twelve of the 56 reindeer husbandry units or cooperatives that make up the Herding Cooperative Association are in the Sami region. Each divides its land into spring, summer and reserve ranges, and calving areas. About 40% of the Finnish herding stock is in the Sami region and is owned by 1,600 herders (21% of the Finnish total). On average each herder owns 60 reindeers. As much as 85% of the reindeer in the Sami area are owned by Sami. Nowadays ownership is by right of residence: no kinship or other criteria limit it to one socio-cultural group. The overlap between kinship territory and kinship membership used to mean that only members of specifically defined families could inherit this right. But now any EU citizen can live in the area and obtain herding rights. The Sami can no longer be defined in terms of historical economic activities, and reject the existing situation, seeking a solution in the EU agreement.

If the number of reindeers registered by each owner declines to zero some animal rights are lost (though not herding rights); so many Sami adhere to the minimum requirement, for themselves and also for their children. Whereas in the 1970s 40% of all reindeer meat in the region was for domestic consumption, state-promoted commercialisation and the need for considerable capital has driven many away from this activity: EU slaughter conditions are strict, and snow scooters (introduced in the 1960s) have to be purchased for herding. Herds used to be led on foot by the herder and the lead animal who was familiar with the grazing paths. The large herds of over 600 animals needed for commercial herding, - despite attempts by the state to limit their size - overgraze the pastures. Some land has been taken up by reservoirs, while lichen-based herding is being replaced by methods suitable for cattle. Herding involves quite different social and cultural practices to those working in a subsistence context and to those involved in commercial activities.

Hydroelectric power and tourism involve the ownership of specific resources. Hydroelectric projects have destroyed reindeer herding areas and even entire villages, often disrupting domestic and local economies, The profits from hydroelectric projects accrue outside the region, though they have provided new fishing grounds. Since 1960 tourism has grown and now over a million visit the region annually. Hotel rooms number nearly 5,000. It brings some wealth into the region, though as much of this wealth goes out of the region, it is often considered an exploitation of Sami cultural resources, this causing resentment. Very few still wear Sami clothing to religious services on Sunday because of the masses of tourists waiting to photograph and film them. Similarly skiers and snowmobiles disturb the herds, while fishing exploits scarce resources. Sami complain that the State limits the number of reindeer but not the number of tourists. Some do profit from tourism: the handicraft industry is developing, while the Inari museum, owned by 20 Sami, has over 100,000 visitors annually and is lucrative. Hotels and souvenir shops are owned by northern Sami. Yet some are reluctant to be employed in tourist activity, perceiving it as restricting the historic freedom associated with economic activity. Indeed, many see integration into any normative economic activity as indicating a need for money and a desire for ostentatiousness.

Sami men engage in a strictly defined range of activities: subsistence activities such as hunting, fishing, gathering and some reindeer herding; while wage labour involves mining, construction and related primary sector activities. Sami usually work in the service sector as wage-earners, though there are some Sami initiatives in this field. But no economic activity pertains only to the Sami, so economic competition is partly seen as social group competition transcending social class and focusing on the Sami-incomer dichotomy.

The salmon rivers flowing into the Arctic, Lake Inari and the new reservoirs in the south are the main fishing resources. Though largely a subsistence activity, it also attracts tourism. The Inari or 'Fisher Sami' who fish in the huge Lake Inari, are finding that fish stocks are rapidly declining because the middle of the lake is not regarded as private and Finnish incomers are now trawling it. Hunting involves elk, game and wildfowl. Gathering can also produce considerable income for the household. The right to hunt belongs to the owner of real property. On State land the State controls hunting and issues licences. Both Sami and non-Sami can use these large resources: 67.5% of forest land is state-owned.

1.2 General history of the region and the language group

The languages are usually classified as Finno-Ugraic, implying a relationship with Finnish, though some claim that the Sami language groups came from the east and not the south. Genetic evidence places them apart from the rest of the Finnish population. There were settlements on the Finnmark coast of the Arctic Ocean at the end of the Ice Age about 10,000 years ago, at a time of considerable population migration during which Asians moved north, east and west as hunting grounds declined and new lithic technology and optimum climatic conditions developed. This population must have established an ecological equilibrium in the area until about 4,000 BC when contacts with the south proliferate. Around 1600 BC the Bronze Age penetrated the area, and later the Iron Age. Thereafter the Sami moved south for climatic reasons to occupy much of Fenno Scandinavia.

At the end of the 13th century politico-territorial developments to the south affected the Sami. Following the establishment of Christian churches and monasteries round the fringes of Lapland, Norway and Nosogfrad divided Lapland: religion was used to extend political hegemony. Conceptions of cash economy and its relationship to property were extended to a population which had different conceptions of land and wealth. The Sami system involved a network of kinship territories where rights belonged not to the individual but to the village-based kinship group, each individual demonstrating hereditary membership to gain rights of usufruct of corporate kinship resources. Exploitation involved corporate working practices and the distribution of goods to all members. A mixed economy based upon fishing, reindeer hunting, trapping and gathering was practised. Location and natural resources determined the relationship between these activities. The seasons accounted for some geographical variation and pluri-activity. In this economic context a detailed knowledge of the natural environment was essential for survival. This knowledge was embedded in the detailed vocabulary of the Sami language, and included taxonomies of animal species and the physical environment and the relationship between them. The construction of the inclusive 'we' identity was partly based on how such vocabulary defined the boundary of inclusion and exclusion.

After the 14th century contact intensified, with more ecclesiastical activity, and the search for taxation revenue. These were related. A dichotomy emerged between 'Christian territory' and 'Heathen territory', legitimising the latter by the occupants of the former. In the former a market economy was practised, in the latter production was determined by the needs of the kinship groups: two modes of production, with the superior mode penetrating the inferior to extract surplus value for its benefit. Thus the Sami were excluded from Sweden's abolishment of slavery in Sweden in 1335. The claim that the Sami were not Christian was used to justify exploitative practices. Even in the mid-16th century it was claimed that the Sami were not being Christianised so as not to lose economic benefit. Hereditary debt bondage, was used to prolong the transfer of surplus from one system to the other. On conversion to Christianity hereditary rights were conferred by the Swedes on the Sami. Alcoholism was used to lock the Sami into unequal trading relationships, obliging them to trade on the Swedes' terms. All this, and taxation, changed a subsistence, sustainable economy organised on corporate lines into a market economy integrated with the emerging capitalist mode of production.

In the 17th century several States competed over the region and taxation rights. By the following century, these 'goods' were divided between them by agreement. The Sami were only consulted as regards trans-frontier rights associated with economic practices. Jurisdiction was based on jui solis and this prevented the persistence of trans-frontier Sami ownership. The extension of capitalism and population expansion displaced the pluri-activity balance. Reindeer herding increased, and in the forested eastern region hunting and trapping persisted as the main economic activity. Collective herding by territorially-defined kinship units only became widespread in the Kola peninsula in the 19th century (where the Skolt Sami had already domesticated reindeer).

Herding involved migration to seasonally available pastures: a northern equivalent of the transhumance of Alpine Europe. The herders derived many by-products from the animal, which was also used as a beast of burden. The owners of the larger herds began to employ non-owners as manual labour, heralding a capitalist relationship of production. The closure of state boundaries in the 19th century also had profound effects upon reindeer husbandry: customary migration patterns disappeared, as did the close link between environmental balance, kinship territoriality, material cultural practices and husbandry. The threefold division of Mountain, Fell and Sea Sami gave way to a twofold division based upon those who did or did not own reindeer, the former having a superior status to the more numerous non-owners; and this particularly harmed the Sea Sami. The Forest Sami in the east, whose economy was premised upon trapping and fishing began to suffer incursions by in-migrants from the south whose slash-and-burn agriculture damaged the Forest Sami economy. The Sami were impoverished, and the conflict between the Sami and the non-Sami, who carried opposed conceptions of inclusion and exclusion, grew. It was, a conflict both of modes of production and of resource balance that was intensified by the appropriation of legal authority by the State. The Forest Sami had to resort to animal husbandry based on cattle rearing, with locally-grown hay as winter feed. In the Russian-controlled Kola Peninsula the impact of the monasteries declined at the end of the 17th century (and their rights were abolished at the end of the 18th century), with a shift to indirect economic activity, which they still controlled, based upon the extraction of surplus via taxation. The Sami paid to exploit the resources of their own territory!

The ideological role of formal education began in the early 17th century, and involved religious motivation and the Sami language. Despite declining state interest in Sami literacy an attempt was made to translate the New Testament into Sami in the early 18th century. The Sami became strongly involved in Christianity, while their own religion continued. Missionary zeal was exercised with the full power of the State. The New Testament in Sami and a Sami grammar were both published. A dictionary appeared in 1780 and a Sami version of the Bible in 1811.

By the 19th century the formal political structures of each State had assumed the orthodox context of modernism. Strict divisions of Sami territory took place as did the emergence of the census as a means of control. The population of the Sami can be reconstructed as follows:

 

Sweden

Norway

Finland

Russia

Total

1734-63

4,500

7,500

1,700

1,200

14,900

1850-60

5,800

16,000

1,000

1,700

24,500

1900

7,000

19,700

1,500

1,800

30,000

1930-45

10,100

20,700

1,700

1,900

34,400

1970

17,000

30,000

4,400

1,900

53,300

Source: Aikio, Aikio-Puoskari and Helander, 1994:36.
Note: The figures are approximate on account of factors such as boundary changes, in-migration and assimilation.

By the early 18th century in-migration had declined to restart after 1815. The Sami became a numerical minority, this and their political disenfranchisement and minoritisation has had profound implications for their ability to produce and reproduce their languages. In the 19th century the conflict between Sami and non-Sami often reached the courts, the Sami's claim to autochthonous or corporate rights being firmly rejected in favour of individual rights. The main focus of this disparity involved the general concept of 'common land'. Fishing rights became linked to individual land ownership rather than to the right of usufruct. Promoting alcoholism among the Sami by incomers was a way of obtaining property from the Sami. Religious revivalism, promoted through the use of Sami characterised the first half of the 19th century. A strict moral code rejected the use of traditional costume. Violence ensued as such morality was associated with the practices used to disenfranchise the Sami. The State explained this as a 'primitive mania' which 'possessed' the Sami, basing its position on evolutionism and the associated denigration of the non-normative: and language and culture were central. Schools acted as tools of deculturation and ideological assimilation, teachers were offered financial reward to for promoting Finnish. Sami teachers (among others) objected, and the state sought to replace them by non-Sami. Sami organisations emerged as did Sami newspapers. In the early 20th century more enlightened policies were introduced and the relationship between economic practices and cultural reproduction was realised. Links between the different Sami language groups were made to further these activities. During the second world war the entire region was evacuated, over 60,000 people being housed in temporary camps in Sweden. After the war they returned to their villages. Because the Skolt Sami, who had preserved their social structure intact until the end of the 1920s, came from what is Russian territory, they were moved to the Inari Sami areas in Finland. There was some conflict between these groups, though they had links prior to relocation. Having lost everything in the war, new houses were built for them in their new area in 1948. Specific legislation supported them.

1.3 Legal status and official policies.

In Norway the position and rights of the Sami are protected at constitutional level; this serves as a model for Sami aspirations elsewhere, especially as regards culture, social status and occupation. The Finnish constitution acknowledges their right to maintain and develop their languages and cultures. The Sami were recognised as a group by Act No. 52a. Their specific interests are to be heard in parliamentary committees. In 1992 a constitutional committee proposed that the Sami be recognised in the Constitution as an indigenous people. The Language Act provides a Sami translation office for documents (as civil servants are not required to know a Sami language). Support is provided for civil servants who wish to learn Sami, and proficiency in a Sami language is a qualification for civil service posts in the territory. The Act only affects the territory but it does accommodate addressing the Ombudsman, while appeals courts outside the territory must provide translation and interpretation services. The Act defines the right to use a Sami language with the authorities inside the Sami homeland, which officially consists of three main municipalities and the territory of the Lapp Herding Association in Sodankula. Sami versions of Acts and all government decisions that are of specific concern to the Sami, and committee reports (or summaries thereof) of special interest to them must be provided. Road and traffic signs in the territory have to be in Sami. A Bureau for the Sami Language is established by the Sami parliament to provide language services. It is hoped that a revised Language Act will be in operation by October of 1998. An inter-ministerial Sami Consultative Committee has proposed a Sami Act to return land and water rights to the Sami, and an immemorial right of usufruct. These developments largely arose from the 1991 amendment of the Act which made it compulsory for Parliament (and, from 1995, state bodies) to consult the Sami - in practice the Sami Parliament - in matters of interest to them. Sami identity is grounded in a non-capitalist mode of production involving corporate rights, territoriality and socio-cultural practices associated with primarily subsistence activities. Periodically, property used to be redistributed and corporate access given to the fruits of economic activity. Capitalism severely undermined many of these elements, and since it demands specific relations of production and the commercialisation of economic activity, conflict was inevitable: attempts to particularise 'ownership' invariably lead to labour market segmentation. Whereas hunting rights are based on land ownership, fishing rights in the territory are based on tradition: the landless who have exercised such rights retain them.

Attempts to define Sami simply in terms of language backfire: Finns who have learnt the language are included, whereas Sami who do not speak the language, but who practise many activities which otherwise define being Sami, are not. A definition is needed which will ensure that the natural resources which enable the preservation of specific activities defined as 'Sami' to be reserved for those covered by the definition. The favoured position involves descent, self-identity and language. Descent would exclude in-migrants who have learnt the language, but premising rights on descent may clash with legislation on race relations unless such legislation to consolidate Sami identity is given priority over Finnish race relations legislation. Yet the issue illustrates the clash between the concept of racism and the need of capitalism to ensure a mobile labour force to reduce costs. Again, self-identity seems is an inoperable basis for legislation because the subjective element can vary over time, though it does encourage the individual to conform to the chosen definition. Thirdly, language has always been an important defining criterion and boundary marker distinguishing the Sami from others; and it is a major element in promoting a transnational context for Saminess. The other problem is how to handle in-migrants who marry Sami and thus have access to Sami resources without being Sami themselves. These issues currently occupy the Sami Parliament, though no clear outcome is in sight: it is a highly sensitive issue because of its consequences for inclusion and exclusion. Based on a survey in the 1960s 4,672 people are currently registred to vote for the Sami Parliament (between 50 and 60% actually do so). Others may apply to be registered, raising the issue of eligibility for voting rights. The Nordic Council has been seeking to come to terms with Sami issues during the 1950s. Reference is often made to Article 14 of the 1989 ILO Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal People in Independent Countries, which deals with indigenous people and the areas where they live. However it has not been ratified by Finland because it does not conform with Finnish legislation. The Skolts have laws and decrees to promote and protect their culture and occupations, but these do not encompass language use. The present Skolt Act was passed in 1984. The basis for a new Skolt law was prepared in a 1992 report, but the Sami Parliament objected to not being involved and to the implied treatment of the Skolt as separate from the other Sami.

2. Presence and use of the language in various fields:

2.1 Education

In 1970 six schools started to teach Sami, but official legislation had to wait until 1991 when the use of Sami in education at all levels was formally legitimised. Since 1993 it has received a mother tongue status within the schools of the region. Sami is included as a subject in almost all schools within the Sami region and there is also provision in Helsinki. The number of children exposed to this medium has stabilised at about 600 in 33 schools in the area where every school has some provision but it is not compulsory and a further 4 in Helsinki.

No Sami medium schools exist, but all of the 24 primary schools in the area have the capacity to teach through the medium of Sami. These schools have 679 students in 1997 of whom 130 are taught Sami as a subject on a voluntary basis A further 39 pupils receive most of their subjects with Sami as the medium of instruction but with some subjects taught in Finnish.

A further 13 receive instruction with Sami as the mother tongue and other subjects being taught in Finnish. The majority of pupils still have no exposure to the Sami language! At the secondary level there are only 36 students who receive instruction in Sami and a further 44 are taught it as a subject. Much of the higher level education in Sami takes place in Kautokeinio, Norway. All three Sami languages in the area are taught: 35 schools with 503 pupils for Northern Sami; seven schools with 30 students for Anar Sami; and six schools with forty pupils for Skolt Sami. There is a shortage of materials and trained teachers fluent in the language. Most of the teachers are Finns rather than Sami, but to obtain a permanent post they must learn Sami. Teachers protest about this qualification and it leads to conflict between Finnish teachers and Sami parents and it contributes to a turn over in teachers from one year to the next. There is integration between Finland, Sweden and Norway, but the diversity of languages for such small populations is perplexing. Most materials are published in Northern Sami and are also produced in the other languages.

Some pre-school Sami language education on a one to one basis is available.

Legislation provides for day care in Sami and is resented by some Finns.

Vocational programmes are also being translated into Sami, but only two members of staff are devoted to producing materials in Sami. Some work proceeds on producing an electronic dictionary. Teachers are trained at the University of Oulu and Lapi University, and at the Sami College in Norway the later seeking to extend primary level teacher competence to the higher level. Shortage of trained Sami speaking staff and the existence of tenured non-Sami speaking Finns are a problem. Devolution of financial responsibility for education from the centre to the municipalities, and constraints on regional funding leads to fear that Finnish local administrators will link cost cutting to the provision of Sami language education. The transfer of the Bureau for Education Affairs from the Lapland County Board to the Sami Parliament, and the specific earmarking of state funds should safeguard against such developments. New legislation insists that any municipality with more than 50% Sami must enable those who demand it to receive 50% of their teaching through the medium of Sami. As the prestige of the languages increase in relation to the emergence of a Sami language public sector and media employment qualification in a poor region heavily dependent on public sector employment, the demand for Sami language education increases. It leads to incomers learning the language as literate and displacing native speakers who lack such literacy. Telematic based open distance learning that links all of the Sami language educational provision across the three relevant states is currently being explored. Also teaching method from New Zealand are being develop through by the EC and the Finnish Institute of Culture. The loss of the ability to reproduce the language places increasing onus on developing a system for effectively producing the language. Resources outside of Finland, mainly in Norway, are important. The Sami High School was opened in Kautokeino, Norway in 1989 and has been important for teaching and transnational links.

Teaching professional qualifications are earned there and it is also a research entre and focuses upon communications theory and mass media. Credit transfer and comparability of professional qualifications has been agreed across the three relevant states and should insure teacher mobility across the entire Sami region. The Inari Folk High School organises intensive Sami language courses, mainly for adults, and since 1994 it has served as part of the Sami Region Training Centre. Quotas are reserved for Sami speakers in certain training programmes at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi and at Oulu. Sami studies are taught at Helsinki University.

2.2 Judicial authorities

See above.

2.3 Public authorities and services

The Nordic Sami Council was founded in 1956 at a time when the conventionally assimilatory policies of the Nordic states began to yield and it has been of central importance in sustaining the validity of Sami claims across a range of different activities and social institutions. Part of its importance involves standardising what Sami in one locality or state may have gained, across the entire Sami region. It raises political consciousness while also promoting trans regional unity and identity.

In 1932 an organisation was established by the non-Sami in Finland to protect the interests of the Sami - Lapiun Sivistysseura or The Society for the Promotion of Sami Culture. It still operates as an important external pressure group, conducting research and operating politically but has given way to agencies promoted by and consisting of Sami. In 1934 it was responsible for publishing the only Sami language periodical - Sapmelas. From 1973, together with the Sami Association it was responsible for official representation of the Sami in Finland. It provides educational scholarships and promotes Sami culture. Also founded in 1973 was the Skolt Interests Relief Association which represents Skolt Sami interests, providing expert consultation on a range of activities, organising training, and cultural activities including publication and research. The Sami Association was founded in 1945 to promote the national, cultural and economic well-being of the Sami. It built the Sami Museum in Inari in 1959, and was responsible for the foundation of the Sami Christian Folk High-School in Inari. When the Sami parliament was founded in 1974 its activities were slowly wound down. In recent years the broad based institutions have given way to more specialised interest group organisations such as Sapemelas Duodjarat which supports handicraft activities in the face of the exploitation of Sami material culture for tourism by non-Sami. It teaches, organises exhibitions, distributed information and also exercises quality control. The Society of Sami Teachers in Finland was founded in 1982, and is a member of the parent Nordic association, managing and promoting the teaching of Sami and Sami culture, and representing the professional interests of its members. It has promoted the reduction of teaching responsibilities for those actively involved in the preparation of Sami language teaching materials. In 1986 the Inari Language Association was founded in order to standardise and preserve the Inari language. It distributes information and is involved in publishing. A series of institutions in operate at the formal, local level. In Utsjoki the Sami Association, founded at the end of the 1950s, organises concerts, theatre activities and art exhibitions and operates politically. In Enontekio a similar association Johti Sabmelazzat was founded in 1969, and is involved in economically related legal policy formation. It organises the spring festival in Hetta. The local Sami association in Inari – Anara Samisearvi, founded in 1983, organises cultural programmes, publications and promotes education. In Sodankyla the Soadekili Samii Searvi was founded in 1971 and a City Sami Association was founded in Helsinki in 1989. These institutions have replaced the earlier lineage based activities which organised Sami communities. Despite the progressive nuclearisation of family activity and identity, these lineages still function when extended families mobilise in resolving local conflicts. Some Sami, particularly the Skjolt have a substantial knowledge of kinship systems in their area. This is assisted by the fact that those in the villages who inherit land tend to belong to the same family units. The changes promoted by social change has generated a backlash among the non-Sami in the area who have founded a Lapland Tradition Association which seems to counter Sami identity by claiming an all inclusive Lap identity which accommodates Sami without prioritising the Sami language and culture. They may include Sami who opt for a Finnish, non-Sami identity. Such local and regional institutions struggle over the distribution of resources dedicated to cultural activities. The Finnish state tends to dichotomise the population into Sami and Finns, leaving no room for the regional autonomy that the Laps seek to engage with. The Sami maintain that the action of the Laps is merely a means of gaining access to material resources. The economic is very much at the heart of voting behaviour and there is considerable variation within the region with the Agricultural Party taking over 50% of the vote in EU and Sodankyla but only 27% in Inari where non mainstream parties receive 37% of the vote. The Sami Parliament was legally confirmed in 1973 and revised in 1990. Members of the parliament are elected by the Sami by universal suffrage for a term of four years. All adult Sami with Finnish citizenship are entitled to vote, regardless of their place and country of residence. A register of eligible voters exists for this purpose. Initially the issue of Sami identity was linked to language as per following definition: 'A Sami is a person whose parents or one of the parents speaks, or has spoken Sami as a language in the home and himself speaks Sami.' This language criterion was subsequently loosened: 'A person is a Sami, if he himself/she herself, his/her father or mother or any of his/her grandparents learnt Sami as a child as his/her first language.' the definition used in the 1973 Finnish Decree on the Delegation for Sami Affairs. A self-definition clause was added in the 1990 Amendment and the 1991 Sami Language Act. With the introduction of the Sami cultural autonomy legislation a further group was incorporated - those who were descendants of persons who had been registered as Mountain, Forest or Fishing Lapps. It also extended to include the proviso that at least one of the parents has or could have been registered as an elector for an election to the Sami Delegation or the Sami Parliament. The Sami leadership has objected to this breadth of definition on the grounds that it includes persons who have long lost any link with Sami life and would constitute a threat to the culture and life style. This runs parallel to the objection of Tax-paying Lapps who refute definitions based on cultural autonomy. Accusations of gery mandering exist on both sides. The Sami Parliament has 20 members and is subordinate to the Minister of the Interior. Its offices are located in Inari. It is an advisory body with a budget of 1.4 million Finnish Marks in 1993. It functions via an Executive Committee and four Sections covering Law, Economics, and Environment, Language and Culture and Social Affairs and Health. Its activities are funded by the central state.

Complaints about central legislation without consultation has led the central government to conceded the right of consultation. In practice its effectiveness varies in accordance with the government department and with the political aspirations of the minister in charge, leading to a feeling of being used for political purposes at the central level. The goal of the Parliament is to secure the rights of the Sami people and to improve their economic, social and educational provision. It can take initiatives and make proposals and can deliver statements and reports to public authorities. It can also commission research. It lacks ultimate decision making power but claims to represent the political opinion of the Sami and, as such, it is the paramount political body in Lapland. It represents the Finnish Sami at the Nordic Sami Conference and is represented on Commissions that pertain to the region. Finnish is the lingua franca for discussion and debate. The Skjolt Sami who originate from the area of Petsamo ceded to the Soviet Union after the second world war, speak a language which is quite distinct from either North or Inari Sami. They were granted a new area to occupy in 1948 when the Skolts from Paatsjoki and Petsamo were resettled in Nellimo on the banks of Lake Inarinjarvi, while the Suonikyla Skolts occupied the north bank in the district of Sevettijarvi. They number about 600 and are divided into family based units of between 10 and 20 people per family who devoted most of their economic activity to fishing and hunting. They had few contacts with the northern Sami prior to relocation and their entry into Inari areas led to a degree of conflict. Prior to 1944 each family had its own territorial area and rights of usufruct and boundaries which were adjusted as the size of units increased or decreased. Kinship was and is paramount, kinship knowledge is broad and kinship activity pronounced. However the link between kinship and territorial rights changed when they were relocated. New houses were built under special legislation during the 1960s and 1970s to accommodate the increase in family size. This privilege has aroused a degree of resentment among some of the other Sami. They are currently located in three villages which cover a vast area. They retain their community councils and in comparison with other areas in-migration has been limited. Skolt village meetings convened to draw up proposals to various authorities and to deliver statements and reports on behalf of the Skolt are held in Sevettijarvi and Nellim where they are chaired by the elected representative. In contrast to 20 years ago only Finnish is used at these meetings. This office is subordinate to the Sami Affairs Consulting Committee. There has been a reluctance to reproduce the language and they adhere to the orthodox religion which is mainly conducted through the medium of Finnish despite the existence of Sami language religious texts. Some of the priests do chant in the Skjolt language.

There is a certain amount of intermarriage between the Inari and the Skjolt but intermarriage with Finns is more evident. One village is evenly divided between Inari and Skjolts. Most Skjolts are illiterate in their language which was only standardised during the 1970s. In Sevettijarvi the Skolt language and culture is taught at both levels of the comprehensive school and they are also taught through the local adult education institute. In 1993 the 'Skolt Language Nest' was initiated as an experiment, and serves as a day care centre and as a place where the elderly and other Skolt speakers can gather. All these activities are conducted in Skolt.

2.4 Mass media and information technology

Population dispersion makes trans-frontier cooperational broadcasting important. The central news office is in Innari and there are local editorial staff at Utsjoki and Kaaresuvant. Radio uses all Sami languages but North Sami is the most widely used and involves community broadcasting that serves individual needs. Private radio broadcasts from Norway. Seven hours a day are broadcast covering news and current affairs and a certain amount of schools broadcasting.

Television broadcasts in Sami exists in Norway and can be received in Finland via satellite. Occasional programmes are produced in Sami within Finland. Digitalization will extend the potential and the Inari office can produce Sami language television programmes. The free, monthly periodical Sapmelas, first produced in the 1930s and claiming to reach every Sami speaker in Finland, is published entirely in Sami. Since 1989 Anaras has appeared in Inari Sami once or twice a year. The Sami Council of Educational Affairs has published a review of bilingual issues and educationally relevant issues in recent years - Samagiella skuvlagiella. Two Norwegian Sami language weeklies reach the Finnish Sami - Mini Aigi and Assu. Most support is Norwegian and the goal is that of trans-regional integration. Electronic materials, especially for education, receive the same support.

2.5 The Arts

In 1978 the Sami Conference approved North Sami as the common orthography. The first prose writer was Johan Turi writing at the beginning of the century. The focus upon realism in Sami literature relates to the need to extend the struggle over the language and way of life. The revivalist political movement of the 1970s and 1980s was important for literature which covered many genres. Lyric poetry relates to the rhythmic qualities of music and chants especially the yoiks. The current focus is on the production of both fiction and non-fiction materials for children, and is heavily reliant on state subsidy. About twenty new educational book titles appear annually. Only one publisher exists within the region. Tourism has stimulated a revival in visual art, most importantly wood cuts. Where craftsmanship was paramount, aestheticism of western art becomes important. A professional organisation of Sami artists responsible for the annual exhibition of fine arts and handicraft. - Sami Daiddacehpiid - has been in existence since 1979. The yoik, a form of music representation that requires particular voice control skills and a high degree of coordination across participants, is the aesthetic Sami form par excellence. In its poetic form it contains a variety of culturally contextualised codes and signs systems based on complex rules. Recently these have been adapted for use within a range of mixed genre from rock to jazz and to pop music in general. This syncretism has led to a broad local and international popularity for Sami music.

There are no professional theatre companies in Finland but Norwegian companies visit the region. The main amateur company in Finland is Ravgos which operates out of Outakoski in Utsjoki. Film and radio use Sami theatre.

Two Sami films - 'Dog's Life' and 'Let's Dance' have achieved success. Sami theatre seeks a dramaturgical formula that manifests its own culture. Oral tradition persists but is quickly changing through isolation from its context. During the summer a ten day festival is held in the region. This attracts people from the entire Sami area and extend to accommodate marriages, confirmations and church ceremonies as well as Sami sporting activity.

2.6 The business world

The weakness of the economic structure has been referred to above. The limited business transactions associated with the private sector pertain to tourism and here there is a tendency to use the language on an informal basis

2.7 Family and social use of the language

We know little of Sami language use nor rates of language group endogamy. Estimates suggest that for both the Inari and the Skjolt the rate of language group exogamy exceeds 50%. There is some family use in concentrated communities as well as in dispersed cases but that the new generation of parents has largely been raised through the medium of Finnish. Increasing language prestige associated with the extension of Sami into the service sector is having positive results. The Sami intelligentsia is very keen to extend the familial use of the language, recognising that without the reproductive capacity the language loses its claim for mother tongue status. The declining link between the extended family and economic practices has limited language use within the extended family. Some ritual use associated with reindeer herding remains. Many Finns learn Sami but don't become Sami. This difficulty of encompassing and expressing the diverse basis of 'being Sami' leads to a suspicion that the Sami are searching for a means whereby any definition will automatically lead to the exclusion of Finns who will be defined by not being Sami, however that is defined. The social construction of meaning focuses upon territory and resources. Many of the Finns who have learnt Sami are also able to read and write the language and are therefore able to access the more lucrative service sector employment opportunities which carry a Sami language qualification. This leads to resentment.

2.8 Transnational exchanges

As discussed above there is considerable interchange between the Sami population in all of the Nordic states. This involves sharing educational and media resources, economic transactions and kinship ties.

3. Conclusion

The Sami in Finland are more than a language group as a social group, and consist of more than one language group. Much of the activity associated with the Sami has to be understood by reference to a resistance to the economic activity of capitalism and how self identity involves economic resources. In language terms they share a great deal with other minority language groups who are gaining a degree of political autonomy and recognition at the same time as the infrastructure which is essential in order to reproduce the language is being undermined. The widespread negative identity and the high degree of language group exogamy associated with recent in-migration severely undermine reproduction capacity. Legislation has placed considerable onus upon accessing service sector employment via the Sami language which is quickly raising the prestige of the languages. The extent to which the agencies responsible for producing the language can keep up with the forces which are undermining the reproduction capacity and whether the increased prestige of the language will be sufficient to extend the reproductive capacity remains to be seen.

[Top of page]

©Euromosaic