76: Sami Culture in Northern Norway

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Life in Norway Show #76: From the Sami Parliament and efforts to keep the languages alive to the importance of handicrafts and song, we hear all about Sami culture in 2024.

The recent wind turbine controversy has brought Sami culture and indigenous rights back into the headlines here in Norway, and around the world.

The Sami flag against a blue sky.
The Sami flag.

Bodø is about to start its year as European Capital of Culture, and the team has put Sami culture at the very heart of the program.

So, who better to introduce us to the various aspects of Sami culture than Maria Hernes Bær, the coordinator of the Sami program for Bodø 2024.

We talk about Sami identity, some elements of the culture including what tourists experience and what they don’t, and the plans to showcase Sami culture at Bodø 2024.

Listen to the show

You can listen to the show using the web player below, or on your podcast player of choice. This includes: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify. Simply search for ‘Life in Norway' on your platform of choice to get started.

I have stopped publishing the podcast on the Life in Norway YouTube channel, as I’m focusing on releasing my videos there. Let me know if you prefer listening to podcasts on YouTube and I’ll see what I can do!

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Introducing Sami Culture in Norway

We couldn’t go into too much detail on the show. Instead, we chose to provide a general overview about some key elements of Sami culture in Norway, including:

The History of Norwegianisation: For many years, the Norwegian government pursued policies of forced integration. Maria says it’s impossible to discuss Sami culture without understanding this history.

Sami languages: There are many different Sami languages spoken in Norway. Work is underway to save and promote some of the most endangered ones.

Duodji: The best translation for this is Sami handicrafts, but there’s more to it than that, as Maria explains.

Joik: Sitting somewhere between a song and poetry, the joik remains an important part of Sami culture to this day.

Bodø 2024

In 2024, Bodø takes its place as European Capital of Culture. Back in 2021, I spoke with the program director about Bodø's plans for the year. If you're curious about the festival, that episode of the podcast is a must-listen.

Links from the show

During the show, we talk about many aspects of Sami lifestyle and several events taking place during Bodø 2024. Here are links to learn more:

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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1 thought on “76: Sami Culture in Northern Norway”

  1. Thanks so much for this as there’s very little about Sami culture in English! I am very passionate about highlighting it, and I attended a 12-week remote Northern Sami language course in 2020, during the lockdown, as I wanted to learn more about the culture of my friends.


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