Introducing the Sami

The Sami are found in the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. There are 10 languages (nine living languages), as can be seen on the map below:

On this map, you can also see an approximation of the number of speakers of each language. Some of the languages have very few speakers left. North Sami is the dominant Sami language. Sea Sami is thought to have died out or have been amalgamated with other Sami languages. You can read more about the background of the Sami languages here:

Sami people are probably best known as being reindeer herders. However, as with all people, their way of life depends on where they live. Along the coast, fishing is the norm. The largest Sami population in Norway is now in Oslo, where people have moved for education and for work. The Sami in Oslo have their own cultural centre, which organizes Sami activities throughout the year:

This video below was produced as an introduction to the Sami way of life. It was produced for Umeå 2014 – Umeå, a town in Sweden, was made European City of Culture in this year.


What can you learn about the Sami from this video? Make notes under the headings below as you watch.

Society (how people live, where they live):

Political factors(how have Sami people been affected by national policies, etc):

Economy (what are the traditional ways of working, etc):

Culture (art, music, dance):

Technology (what traditional and modern technology is used):

Belief system (what are the traditional beliefs, how do they relate to the land):

When you have finished making notes:

  • Discuss what you have learnt about the Sami with other pupils. Did you note down the same points?
  • Compare what you have learned about the Sami with what you know about other indigenous peoples. What similarities can you find?
  • If you have done the identity mapping activity (here), compare what you have learnt about the Sami with what you wrote about your identity. Are there any similarities in how you approach the world and in your knowledge systems?