sea sami

Today February 6th is the Sami national day.

The Sami are one of the earliest ethnic groups in Norway,Finland,Sweden and Russia. They are considered a part of the indigenous population. From old times there have been Sami people that works the mountains, but also along the coast there have been Sami. From the old days the sea Sami was fishermen and the mountain Sami herded reindeer.


The Sami have their own languages which falls under the Uralic language group. Around 6 of the Sami languages can still be learned in school and is spoken in different areas. That all comes down to what area you are from. 

Sami crafts(Duodji)

The Sami lived far from people, therefore they traditionally produced most of their own stuff like cups,knives,handbags,chests,infant beds,toys etc. Notice the use of traditional Sami patterns and coulors. Today everything made after the old traditions are considered Sami handicraft. 


The gákti is worn both in ceremonial contexts and while working, particularly when herding reindeer. The traditional Sami costume is characterized by a dominant color adorned with contrast colored bands, plaits, pewter embroidery, tin art, and often a high collar. Like many other traditional clothing, they show what part you are from.

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Alta, named after the fjords, stares at the waters of the Arctic Ocean. 

Shielded from the full brutality of the icy ocean by islands and mountains, Alta is tucked away. 

Just outside the city centre sits the museum - and the stone carvings. 

The stone carvings are historically incredibly significant to the Sámi. They show that reindeer herding, and reindeer husbandry has been practised in Northern Norway for thousands of years. 

The pictures show castrated reindeer (and I am assured of this by herder from Kautokeino) amongst a heard of non-castrated reindeer. This allows the herd to be as diverse as possible, allowing them to reach food in the winter, as castrated reindeer are stronger and can use their antlers to bury through snow to find the lichen underneath. This is still used today, but the methods of castration have changed. 

Before medical tools, herders would bite the testicles of reindeer until they popped (like a sausage, I am told). This was a method of semi-castration, and is often still preferred, as it poses less risk of infection and more precision than using modern day medical tools. In Norway reindeer herders have to use medical tools by law. 

Alta is a beautiful city, rich in history. The Sea Sámi used to be the only people fishing the water here, in small boats, and only catching what they needed to survive (for eating and selling). But industrialisation forced the seas to become over fished, the numbers dropped. The Norwegian government gave smaller fishing quotas to the smaller boats - many had to leave the area because they simply couldn’t survive anymore.

Rotting boats dot the sea shore - a vague memory of the simple life people once lived.