Saami Reindeer Herding: "Traditional" Practice in Modern Scandinavia

Samantha E. Hyler, Butler University


Approximately 75,000 Saami people live Sapmi in northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula (For a map of Scipmi, see Fig. 2). Saami are an indigenous and minority population within the nation states of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. It is difficult to determine exactly how many Saami there are because of the process of identifying who Saami are (by linguistic ability, geographical location, parentage, occupation, or other factors) and issues of self-identification. Saami have the option to choose how to identify themselves due to their complicated past and their physical similarity with majority populations. However, the more recent studies record 40,000 Saami living in Norway, 10,000-25,000 in Sweden, 8,000 in Finland, and 2,000 in Russia (Virtual Finland 2004).