Saami - History and Cultural Relations



Hunting and gathering ancestors of present-day herding, farming, fishing, mixed-economy, and entrepreneurial Saami entered northern Fennoscandia from the east by several routes and separate migrations and over several millennia. During these waves, Saami traversed some areas already sparsely settled by other peoples and languages before establishing themselves in present-day Sapmi. Here, cultural and linguistic contact arose with the later northern movements of Scandinavian, Finnish, and Russian peoples in the current era. Earliest contacts in the historic period came through traders, tax collectors, and missionaries. Periods of intense proselytization and forced assimilation led some individual Saami as well as whole regional groups into the dominant national culture and language, facilitated by the phenotypic indistinguishability of the Saami. More pluralistic national policies in the late twentieth century have stemmed the trend of assimilation. Saami today have full rights as citizens and participate in the same educational, religious, and political institutions as other members of their dominant cultures, at the same time as they actively champion their ethnic status.


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