Meet the famous reindeer-herders of the Arctic in our facts about the Sámi people…

Facts about the Sámi people

1) The Sámi are a group of indigenous people that come from the region of Sápmi, which stretches across the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula in Russia.

2) No-one is exactly sure how many Sámi people there are, but estimates range from between 50,000 – 200,000! On the 6 February every year, they celebrate Sámi Peoples Day. They wear traditional clothes, eat traditional food and fly the Sámi flag!

3) Their traditional outfits – known as the Gakti – are worn at parties, festivals, weddings, baptisms, funerals and more. The handmade outfits are decorated with different designs so the Sámi can easily tell where another person is from.

Sámi people: Sámi sisters in traditional dress

4) The Sámi are best known for reindeer herding. Reindeer meat is used for cooking, leather and fur is used to make shoes and clothing, and antlers and bones make useful tools and decorative objects. The Sámi are also skilled fishers and sheep herders.

5) Reindeer are so important to the Sámi way of life, that many people go to a special university to learn how to care for their animals. Like we might have classes in Maths or English, they have classes that teach them how to look after the reindeer herds – how cool is that?!

Sámi people
A traditional Norwegian Sámi home, called a gamme, is built with domed wooden beams and covered over with turf. A hole in the roof allows smoke from the fire to escape.

6) There are nine different Sámi languages! Thankfully, the word ‘reindeer’ is the same for all Sámi people, meaning they can communicate with each other about reindeer, no matter what language they’re speaking!

7) In Frozen II, the make-believe Northuldra tribe you see in the Enchanted Forest are based on the Sámi people of northern Norway! During the film, Elsa and Anna learn that their mother was one of the Northuldra people, which makes the sisters half Northuldran.

Sámi people: Sámi woman inspects reindeer

8) The Sámi are ‘semi-nomadic’, meaning they don’t stay in the same place all year. Sámi herders migrate with their reindeer during the seasons, heading to the mountains for winter and coming back together with the community in the summer. On the journey, Sámi herders will camp in a traditional tent, called a lavvo. A lavvo is a circular frame of poles leaning inwards towards a pointy top – similar in style to the teepees and wigwams used by the indigenous people of America.

9) Traditionally, the Sámi people lived in a group of families called a ‘siida‘. The word siida is used to describe both the reindeer herding area and the team of people who look after the herd.

Sámi people: Sámi sisters in traditional dress

10) The Sámi people have their own parliaments to represent them in Norway, Sweden and Finland, and their own newspapers and radio stations, that report on issues that concern the Sámi people!

What did you think of our feature on the Sámi people? Let us know by leaving a comment, below!

Words by Josephine Price at National Geographic Traveller. Image of traditional Sámi shoes and materials ⓒ Getty (656760470). All other images ⓒ Josephine Price at National Geographic Traveller.
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COMMENTS

  • Isla

    that's so cool, how do they do it.

  • Grace

    Cool

  • laila kareem

    i really like that movie.

  • ere

    hi

  • AnyaDharshan

    wowwwww

  • JULIA

    COOL

  • Pamela

    Omg

  • will

    WOW AMAZING

  • very interesting

  • Celia

    This is so cool! In the Netflix movie, Klaus, they mention this!

  • lele

    nice

  • Cool

    The Sami people are really like the characters in frozen two especially the outfits and hair also frozen two us epic check it out

  • Edith

    Frozen two totally relatable to it

  • Wow

    I still can't believe that the Northuldra tribe from frozen 2 were based on the sami people! It's so cool. I really like that movie

  • Nuraan

    Amazing

  • Lana

    Just watched Frozen 2. So this is really cool! Btw, first Frozen came out when I was 5.

  • emma

    BOWWOW

  • Siena

    These people are awesome!

  • Heidi kuklinski

    It really is like frozen2

  • Joshua

    Wow!Never heard of the Sámi people before!!

  • Um wow definitely 100% did not know that...

  • Christina

    I never knew about sami people, but now I know

  • Yikes

    Cool

  • Isla

    Interesting facts

  • Pihunicorn

    amazing information !!!

  • Pihu

    SO COOL !!!

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