Sápmi - Norway

The Sami people (also Sámi or Saami) are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sami are the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognised and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples, and are hence the northernmost indigenous people of Europe.


This is a personal journal resulting from the youthful fascination for the north and the curiosity of other people. The journey took place in Kautokeino and Alta in February 2014. I lived for a short time with various families which I did not know before. The hospitality of these people and my curiosity opened the door to their world. 


In my mother language, I could not get much information about their history or traditions of those people. That is why I asked everyone about everything and I was approached with a very positive response and willingness to share. After many years of persecution from the Norwegians, they display a great need to share with others, tell another who they are. A wish to be noticed, to be able to speak in own language, to have their own flag or a national day is big. 


My romantic picture met the modern reality. Today, the world has become other than the stories heard. Snowmobiles have replaced skis or dogs as the main method of transportation. Smartphones and electrically heated houses are common conveniences for most people to have. The lavvo is now mostly used to hang up meat to dry, or during summer trips when following the reindeer. Eight different seasons in a year and 400 words to describe various forms of snow is known just by a few.

But still, traditions are well kept and practiced, through music, art and through the stories told between generations.


Lapland is certainly more than just reindeer and lavvos… Lapland that people with strong culture and warm hearts.

 © Dagmara Wojtanowicz

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