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Sámi in Finland PDF Print

The Sámi are the only indigenous people of the European Union. Peoples in independent countries are regarded as indigenous if they are descended from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonisation or the establishment of present state boundaries and if they identify themselves as indigenous and retain, irrespective of their legal status, some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.


The status of the Sámi was written into the constitution in 1995. They have, as an indigenous people, the right to maintain and develop their own language, culture and traditional livelihoods. There is also a law regarding the right to use the Sámi language when dealing with the authorities.


Since 1996, the Sámi have had constitutional self-government in the Sámi Homeland in the spheres of language and culture. This self-government is managed by the Sámi Parliament, which is elected by the Sámi. The Skolt Sámi also maintain their tradition of village administration, under the Skolt Act, within the area reserved for the Skolt Sámi in the Sámi Homeland. The Sámi Homeland is legally defined and covers the municipalities of Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki as well as the Lappi reindeer-herding district in the municipality of Sodankylä.


There are about 9 000 Sámi in Finland. More than 60 per cent of them now live outside the Sámi Homeland, which brings new challenges for the provision of education, services and communications in the Sámi language. The total Sámi population is estimated to be over 75,000, with the majority living in Norway.


In Finland, the definition of a Sámi is laid down in the Act on the Sámi Parliament and is mainly based on the Sámi language. According to the definition, a Sámi is a person who considers him- or herself a Sámi, provided that this person has learnt Sámi as his or her first language or has at least one parent or grandparent whose first language is Sámi.

Last Updated ( maanantai, 17 maaliskuu 2014 )