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Meet the Sámi
2 minute read
the Sámi man and his reindeer

Credits:: Mikko Ryhänen

Discover this intriguing indigenous culture in a respectful way

The best way to learn about this Arctic culture is to meet the Sámi at home in places like Siida and Sajos in Finnish Lapland. Here are some tips for an informative and respectful visit with the Sámi.

a Samí culture exhibition

Siida – captivating exhibitions and outdoor museum

Siida, Cultural and Nature Centre of the Sámi, and Sajos, the Centre of Sámi Culture and Administration, are both located in the heart Inari and are just a 10-minute walk apart.

At Siida, you can get to know Sámi culture and explore the wonders of Arctic nature. The museum’s exhibitions showcase the Sámi people’s strong connection to nature, and you’ll actually be able to feel for yourself the local northern cycle of the year. In addition to rotating indoor exhibitions on culture, art and nature, Siida also offers an open-air museum during the summer. 

Sajos, the Sámi Parliament’s main office and parliament hall
Credits: Sajos

Sajos – the centre of Sámi culture and administration

The Sámi Parliament’s main office and parliament hall – together with various other Sámi organizations – are housed in the beautiful wooden building of Sajos. You can visit the Sámi Parliament House as part of a guided tour.

Be considerate when visiting the Sámi’s homeland

Lapland’s great outdoors are largely part of Sápmi, the Sámi homeland. As a visitor, please be considerate and leave no trace of your travels. Take your trash with you. To protect the area’s natural environment, always use existing routes and trails.

Please be respectful when visiting sacred places and heritage sites – and when you encounter the locals. If you visit a sacred place such as Pielpajärvi Wilderness Church (which was built in 1760 and sits in the old centre of Inari), follow signs and instructions. Finally, respect the locals’ privacy – for example, don’t take pictures of children at play or enter into a reindeer paddock. 

a Sámi man standing in a snow
Credits: Eero Kemilä

Respecting the cultures and traditions of Lapland

Finnish Lapland is a diverse area that’s home to multiple cultures and districts. Sápmi, the Sámi homeland, is a cultural region that’s traditionally inhabited by the Sámi and stretches to the northern parts of four countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Sámi culture has often been commercialized and appropriated for monetary gain, so please be sure you’re learning about and visiting with the Sámi in a respectful, ethical way.

Learn more about the ethical guidelines at the Samediggi site.

a close up of a traditional Samí costume
Credits: Riku Pihlanto