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Skolt Sámi Life     Suomeksi  


The Skolt Sámi in Finland

The Skolt Sámi are an indigenous population of the Kola Peninsula, who lost their native lands in Petsamo as a result of World War II. In terms of their language and traditions, they belong to the Eastern Sámi. They are Orthodox by religion. Their clothing style, music, festival traditions, customs, and food traditions also include eastern features.

The Skolt Sámi live in the eastern parts of the municipality of Inari, to the south, south-east and north-east of Lake Inari. This area, controlled by the state, is known as the Skolt Sámi area. It is estimated that there are some 700 Skolt Sámi in Finland today. Of them, about a third live outside the Skolt Sámi area and even the Sámi Homeland, in different parts of Finland and in Sweden and Norway. Many Skolt Sámi looked for new homes and living conditions in connection with the great migration waves of the late 1960s and early 1970s and even quite recently because of a lack of schooling and work opportunities. As the young Skolt Sámi move elsewhere in search of shcooling, the age-class distribution of the villages of the Skolt Sámi area grows older.

The importance of nature-based occupations - reindeer herding and fishing - has greatly decreased in recent decades. There are almost no small-scale reindeer herders with only some reindeer, and hunting, fishing and berry picking have lost significance as sources of livelihood. They are only done on a non-commercial basis. Some new sources of income have appeared in the sphere of services, but unemployment stays high in the Skolt Sámi area.

As regards Sámi administration, the Skolt Sámi put up their own candidates for the parliamentary elections of the Sámi. They also keep up their own heritage of village administration through choosing a village representative, or Elder, for all the Skolt Sámi every three years. The village meetings deal with affairs concerning the Skolt Sámi and prepare statements on such matters for state and municipal authorities. The Village Elder has an office in Sevettijärvi. After World War II, the Skolt Sámi have had the following persons as Elders: Jaakko Sverloff, Timo Titola, Matti Sverloff, Sergei Kp. Fofonoff, Raimo Gauriloff, Pekka Fofonoff and, since the beginning of 2003, Veikko Feodoroff.

You can get acquainted with the Skolt Sámi heritage in the Inari Sámi Museum Siida throughout the year, and in the Skolt Sámi Heritage House of Sevettijärvi in summer. Every year, many events are arranged with Skolt Sámi traditions and culture as part of the program.


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