Siida Sää'mjie'llem
Skolt Sámi Life     Suomeksi  


The Skolt Sámi Homeland

Returning north after evacuation

Copyright: Sámi Museum Siida
Eventually, the Sámi of the Petsamo village settled permanently in the Nellim area, the Sámi of the Paatsjoki village in Keväjärvi and the Sámi of the Suonjel, or Suonikylä, village in the Sevettijärvi-Näätämö area. The map opens up larger when you click it. Map: Sámi Museum Siida

After World War II - when the Skolt Sámi had returned north from their evacuation destination Ostrobothnia - they lived temporarily in new areas: some close to their former native lands in the vicinity of the Luttojoki River, some in wartime barracks and dugouts in the neighborhood of Lake Nangujärvi and Lake Tsarmijärvi, and some in the Lappish houses that had survived the war in the roadless wilderness north of Lake Inari, waiting for the decision on where to settle for good.

The Sámi from Petsamo got their first permanent homesteads in the late 1940s. Through a law on the settlement of Skolt Sámi, a "Skolt Sámi area" was defined; it was situated in the eastern parts of the municipality of Inari, on state land. In this area, settlement concentrated in the neighborhoods of Nellim, Keväjärvi, and Sevettijärvi. The Sámi from the Petsamo Lapp village were settled in the vicinity of Nellim, those of the Paatsjoki Lapp village in Keväjärvi and on the Rautujoki River in Sevettijärvi, and most of the Sámi from Suonikylä in the area of Sevettijärvi.

The state had 52 new houses, or "Skolt homes", built in the Sevettijärvi area, 43 houses in the region of Nellim and Pikku-Petsamo, and two in Hyljelahti Bay north of the village of Inari. A Skolt Sámi home in Sevettijärvi in the 1950s. Photo: National Board of Antiquities

New villages with a number of services replaced the old homesteads, which had been situated along the roads and destroyed in the last phase of the war. This happened in Keväjärvi and Nellim. However, the road to the Arctic Ocean, which ran through the villages, ended on the Soviet border in Virtaniemi, and one could no longer cross the border and continue the trip from there. In Sevettijärvi, a new Skolt Sámi settlement rose, covering a 60-kilometer-long belt from Lake Nitsijärvi to Lake Kirakkajärvi. At first, there was no road leading to this area, which was hard to reach both by land and water.


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