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Sápmi – the Land of the Sámi

Kiruna is a part of sápmi and has been home to Sámi for many generations. The Sámi people are one of the world’s indigenous peoples, and for millennia they’ve lived close to nature. Although the Sámi lifestyle has developed over the years, their traditions and culture are still very much alive.

In the Kiruna region, several cultures meet. The dominant Sámi language here is Northern Sámi and many Sámi work hard to keep the culture alive and visible in the community. The Swedish name Kiruna is derived from the Sámi word “Giron”, which means “grouse”. Sámi place names explain Sámi history and can be viewed as pieces in the puzzle of an area. They’re often linked with the appearance of the terrain and the value of the location in terms of reindeer husbandry and Sámi subsistence. In Kiruna there is a genuinely living Sámi culture.

The practice of reindeer herding is a strong carrier of cultural heritage but far from all Sámi have it as their main occupation. It is more common to help out at larger events such as the calf branding. The handicraft, Sámi duodji, is also an important part of Sami culture and it embodies a life in harmony with nature. Throughout Kiruna you will find many unique examples of Sami arts and crafts such as the Jukkasjärvi Church organ, decorated with reindeer antler and Sámi motifs.Visiting the region, you can experience and learn more about the Sámi culture through the Sámi companies and guides who work in the tourist industry.

The Indigenous Peoples of the World

The Sámi, one of the world’s indigenous peoples, used to live as hunters and fishermen in nomadic communities where they moved with the reindeer according to the seasons. Nowadays, Sami live in many places in villages and cities and work in all kinds of professions. Even though the Sámi way of life has developed along with the rest of society, their culture and traditions are still strongly present. There are eight Sámi communities in Kiruna. A Sámi community is an economic association and its members are Sámi who work with reindeer herding within the boundaries of the respective communities.

Sámi Communities in Kiruna:
Mountain Sámi communities: Könkämä, Lainiovuoma, Saarivuoma, Talma, Gabna, Laevas, Girjas.
Forest Sámi community: Vittangi.

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Get to know the Sámi companies

In Nikkaluokta, the Sámi family Sarri has been running tourist activities for several generations. They have a facility at the end of the road, not far from Kebnekaise. Although times have changed, genuine Sámi folk are still living with the family, and knowledge of and a feel for the local environment are important to them.

Nutti Sámi Siida is located in the old Sámi marketplace that gave rise to the village of Jukkasjärvi. You’ll find exhibitions here about Sámi culture and lifestyle, sales of genuine Sámi handicrafts, and if you’re feeling a bit peckish traditional lunches are sold at the fireside in a massive Sámi cot. There’s some unique cabin accommodation here too, with reindeer just around the corner and popular reindeer driving tours.

Giron Reindeer is a Sámi family business with an outstanding knowledge of Sámi culture. With them, you can enjoy genuine experiences involving animals and nature and gain an insight into the life of a reindeer herder. Learn how to lasso a reindeer, or tag along on a trip in a reindeer sleigh through forest and marsh, just as the Sámi people of the North have done for thousands of years.

Stig Allas at Allas Activity, works as a reindeer herder and guide and shares his experiences from the neighbourhood and the Sámi Culture with you. He offers snowmobile tours, fishing, and skiing.

Ofelas Islandshästar & Guideservice arrange Icelandic horseback riding tours in the mountains. If you are interested in animals, wildlife, nature and Sámi culture you have found the right place.

Scandinavian Sámi Photoadventures is a Sámi family company that takes you out to photograph Northern Light, Wildlife and Sámi culture. You borrow camera equipment and warm clothes from us and join our Sámi guides out in nature to do amazing photos to your own album.

Enoks in Láddjujávri is located at the foot of Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain. Enoks Restaurant, which serves food of the Sámi tradition, is inspired by the Sámi culture in terms of shape, colours and patterns. During the winter, snowmobile- and overnight tours to Láddjujávri are arranged. Summertime there is boat transfer across glacier lake Láddjujávri which shortens the hike to and from Kebnekaise.

Go to Lapland invites you to genuine experiences in the heart of Sápmi where you can become a reindeer herder for a day. You can participate in a reindeer race, ride a sleigh under the northern lights, feed the reindeer and eat good food.

N’light is a small company that works with small groups to give each individual guest a genuine experience of the animals and nature. Sámi reindeer herder Niklas Blind likes to talk about reindeer herding life, the ancient culture and Sámi traditions.

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