The Sámi people are the indigenous people of northern Europe, which today encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The traditional Sami life style, dominated by hunting, fishing and trading, was preserved to the Late Middle Ages when the modern structures of the Nordic countries were established.
Few people know that the extreme north of Scandinavia is called Europe’s last wild land. In these places forgotten by the world, lives a people whose origins are lost in the mists of history. Sami culture comprises only 800,000 people, spread over four countries, they are Lapps, reindeer people.
The Sámi have lived in relative co-existence with their neighbors for centuries, but for the last two hundred years – especially during the second half of the 20th century, there have been many dramatic changes in Sami culture, politics, economics and their relations with their neighboring societies. During the late-20th century, modern conflicts broke out over the construction of a hydroelectric dam, the reaction which created a reawakening and defense of Sami culture in recent years. From eleven different historically attested Sami languages or dialects, only nine have survived to the present day with most in danger of disappearing as well.
It is possible that the Sami people’s existence was documented by such writers as the Roman historian Tacitus. They have on uncertain grounds, but for a very long time, been associated with the ‘Fenni’. However, the first Nordic sources date from the introductions of runes and is the Account of the Viking Othere to King Alfred of England.