Immerse Yourself in Sami Culture. November 2010 news

                                                                                                                           OCTOBER 2010             IMMERSE YOURSELF IN SAMI CULTURE
How well do you know the Sami people? Get acquainted with the rich and unique heritage of the Nordic countries’ only indigenous group – yet another reason to experience the untouched allure of Finnish Lapland.
 The Sami, Europe’s most northern indigenous people, are the only indigenous group living in the Nordic countries. While the exact origin of the group is unknown, their language belongs to the Finno Ugric language group, into which the Finnish language is also classified. Interestingly, the Sami genotype is distinct from other Nordic genotypes, and so are many aspects of their culture and traditions. There are no exact figures on the number of Sami, but it is estimated that there are 50 000 to 100 000 members living in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. Sami culture is considered a significant facet of Finland, and today the group is free to preserve their languages and carry on their ways of life. The Sami people have a population of approximately 4 000 in Finland and live in three of the country’s northernmost municipalities: Enontekiö, Utsjoki and Inari in Lapland. While elsewhere in Finland the Sami are a minority, the majority of the population in Utsjoki is of Sami descent.  A crash course in reindeer herdingTogether with hunting and fishing, reindeer husbandry has traditionally been one of the Sami people’s main sources of livelihood. In fact, in Norway and Sweden, laws dictate that the Sami possess the sole right to breed reindeer. Although not exclusive in Finland, the Sami’s reindeer breeding tradition is alive and well in Inari.  Visitors to Inari have the rare opportunity to see a real Sami home farm and feed the semi-domesticated beasts, listen to the reindeer herders’ stories, or even try their hand at lasso throwing. In winter, it’s also possible to do as Santa does and go on a reindeer drive in the snow. The farm visit lasts two hours and costs 50 Euros per person including transfers. Visits in wintertime can be scheduled upon request. Make a reservation by inquiring at your hotel in Inari village or by e-mailing In summer, high season in Inari, the farm visits are scheduled daily from Monday to Friday at 15:00 between June and August.
Soak up some culture at Siida – Sami Museum and Nature CentreSiida, in Inari, is at the heart of Finland’s Sami region, and a fine place for an introduction to the Sami people. Siida holds a variety of exhibitions on culture, art and nature. In summertime the relaxed open-air museum is a welcome addition to the museum’s offering. Here, visitors can get a feel for the group’s lifestyle as they step into Sami dwellings and learn about their hunting and fishing methods.  As a nature center, Siida points guests in the right direction for hiking or biking excursions, fishing, bird watching and other activities in Lapland’s great outdoors. Siida – Sami Museum and Nature Center is open in winter from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday; and in summer, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Entry tickets for adults cost 8 Euros while children enter free of charge. Find out more about Siida at  Feel the mystery of Ukko Island While you are in the area, experience the untamed beauty of Lake Inari and its islands. It may not be possible to visit all 3 318 of them, but mystical Ukko Island, an ancient place of worship for the Sami god Ukkonen, is not to be missed. Climb to the island’s highest point to revel in the breathtaking views. In ages past, the island was an ancient sacrificial site. Today, it is protected by Finland’s Antiquities Act.  The cruise, which lasts two hours, departs daily from the shore close to the Siida Museum at 1 p.m from the second week of June until mid-September. A later cruise at 5 p.m. is also available between after midsummer and in early August.  Tickets cost 19 Euros per person. For information, go to
For information about travel in Finland, go to  Contact:Helena NiskanenVisit Finland USATel.