Ollu lihkku! Congratulations!

Fri, Feb 13, 2009
Every year on February 6th, the Sámi people celebrate the Sámi national day.
Text and photos: Solveig Strand-Olsen

reinkjøtt- The Sámi national day means a lot for the Sámi people, and for their feeling of community and unity, Ardis Ronte Eriksen says. Ardis lives in Skånland in Troms county in Norway. She works as a teacher in Skånland videregående skole, where Sámi and Norwegian youth are mixed together, as in most schools in Norway.

Learning by doing

- Every year we usually have an event at school. We have tried out different things each year. kofteshowWe have had theme days were the students could learn to make handicrafts, plaiting, snow sculpturing, reindeer-driving, fashion shows with our traditional Sami clothes and we make traditional Sami food. One year we also had a course were the students could learn joik (the chanting song of the Sami people) , so the students went singing all winter, Ardis says laughing.

Ardis believes in learning through experiences.

- It is more efficiency for the students to learn when they can be participants. When we have events like this it opens a door for the Norwegian students which they didn’t knew existed. The Sámi culture has been hidden in the society for a long time.

Changed opinion

kofteshowArdis can also tell that her attitude regarding the Sámi national day has changed throughout the years.

- Before I meant it was important that every Sámi got free from school and work to celebrate the day. I worked really hard for that. I even found a paragraph in the constitution that said that every people has a right to have free on their national day. Now, I think that was a mistake. I think that it is more important that the schools use February 6th too put focus on the Sami culture instead of invoking to get the day off. Instead we Sami can be resources to learn away and share our culture with the rest of the people.

Across borders

The Sámi national day is not like Sweden or Finland or Norway’s national day. It is a day for the Sámi people all over the borders.

Joni Saijets, comes from Karigasniemi, which is in Northern Finland. He also thinks the Sámi national day is an important day.

- It is a day where everyone feels proud of their ethnicity. On that day most villages were Sámi people live will have happenings the whole day. And the children make shows at schools were they sing and have theater shows. And everybody sings the national anthem.

Sami international seminar

Joni is a student at the University of Oulu.

- I study the Sámi language and culture. At this February 6th there was a Sami international seminar at the University, where the theme was Sámi tradition and design.

This year Joni didn’t participate in any events, because he was working. Even though he was working, he was at the same time sharing his knowledge about the Sámi people.

- I am teaching Sámi culture to the exchange students here in Oulu, Joni explanes.


  • The Sámi are the only indigenous people of the European Union.
  • The Sámi national day is at February 6th is celebrated by all Sámi’s whether they live in Norway, Sweden, Finland or Russia.
  • The first major Sámi meeting in which both North and South Sámi took part was held on February 6, 1917 in Trondheim, Norway. This is the date when the northern and southern Sámi came together across their national borders for their first meeting in Trondheim, Norway.
  • The song of the Sámi Family (Sámi soga lávlla) is the official national anthem of the Sámi. The words were written by Isak Saba, the first Sámi Member of Parliament, and the music is by the Norwegian composer Arne Sørlie. You can hear it here: Sami national anthem.
  • The Sámi flag (Sámi leavga) was designed by the Sámi artist Astrid Båhl. The motif was derived from the shaman’s drum and the poem Sons of the Sun (Páiven párneh) by the south Sámi Anders Fjellner, describing the Sámi as sons and daughters of the sun. The circles represent the sun (red) and the moon (blue).

Source: www.samediggi.fi