Saami - Settlements

Busy with their work, especially hunting, the Saami traditionally led a seminomadic form of life. Every Saami social group had its regular winter and summer quarters, the pogost, and, in addition, a number of spring and autumn stopping places in hunting areas. The winter quarters were most often situated in the interior of the peninsula, close to the edge of the forest, where the winter pastures of the reindeer were located. The summer quarters were on the shores of lakes or rivers or on the seacoast.

Traditional dwellings were of three basic kinds. The oldest and most distinctive structure was the vezha, a transportable dwelling with a frame of poles and a covering made of skin and turf; it had the shape of a truncated tetrahedral pyramid. In the previous century this was, apparently, the basic dwelling of the Saami, but in the twentieth century it has become a dwelling used in spring and autumn stopping places. Sometimes they also lived in vezhas in their summer camps. The winter quarters, by the end of the nineteenth century, consisted basically of small, one-room log cabins with flat roofs or huts of the Russian type. The third type of Saami dwelling was a light transportable structure, conical in form, with a frame of poles covered with skin or tarpaulin. This was the basic dwelling during nomadic migrations. Even today reindeer herders and fisherman use it as a portable dwelling. In the main settlement, most Saami today live in contemporary brick five-story buildings or in private homes of the log-cabin type.

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