The Sami people (also Sámi or Saami), traditionally known in English as Lapps or Laplanders, are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway.

 The Sami are the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognized and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples, and are hence the northernmost indigenous people of Europe. Their traditional languages are the Sami languages and are classified as a branch of the Uralic language family.

Their best-known means of livelihood is semi-nomadic reindeer herding. Currently about 10% of the Sami are connected to reindeer herding, providing them with meat, fur, and transportation. 2,800 Sami people are actively involved in herding on a full-time basis. For traditional, environmental, cultural, and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sami people in certain regions of the Nordic countries.

Since prehistoric times, the Sami people of Arctic Europe have lived and worked in an area that stretches over the northern parts of the regions now known as Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Russian Kola Peninsula. They have inhabited the northern arctic and sub-arctic regions of Fenno-Scandinavia and Russia for at least 5,000 years. The Sami are counted among the Arctic peoples and are members of circumpolar groups such as the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat.

Sami people in the late 1800 Sweden Norway. Pay attention to the boots. Samiske folk i Norge eller Sverige. Legg merke til støvlene, samiske komager dvs. biekso

A Sami man and child in Finnmark, Norway, circa 1900

A Sami family in Norway around 1900 

Sami people, in Norway, 1928 

Nordic Sami people, Lavvu circa.1900 

Sami Children and puppies in Jämtland Sweden

 Sami camp Finnmark early 1900's

 Northern Sweden Nomad Sami people about 1880

 Sami woman and child Enare Finland

  Nomad Sami Finland 1920s

 Nomad Saami Children late 1800eds Sweden 

Saami Girl from Finnmark Norway, Photo 1930's

 Swedish Sami mother and children from Jämtland early 1900

Sami woman from Sweden, 1870 - 1898

Responses to "Rare, old photos of indigenous Sami people showcase their ancient and traditional way of life"

  1. Fascinating

  2. Unknown says:

    Wow just wow

  3. Thank you for posting these photographs. I am impressed to learn more about
    these previously unknown indigenous people from Scandinavia.

  4. Sámi ganda says:

    We are still alive here! Without rights to our lands ofcourse.

  5. nanishome says:

    Published on Sep 26, 2015
    Extending the Link's eighth documentary highlights indigenous issues through the lens of the Sámi people. The Sámi are the last recognized indigenous group in Europe. They reside in their homeland, Sápmi, which is comprised of Northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, but they also have a diaspora in North America due to a small group of reindeer herders being paid to immigrate to Alaska during the time of the gold rush.

    This film focuses on the struggles the Sámi have faced both in their past as well as the in the modern world; highlighting language loss, land loss, cultural identity, and their relationship to indigenous people around the world. However, the Sámi have persevered, taken a stand against injustices, and continue fighting to claim their full rights as individuals and as an indigenous people. https://youtu.be/Qvqy7NgXgEA

  6. Unknown says:

    I am blown away, by my own ignorance and by the beauty of the Sami people.

  7. Colibri says:

    I spent a most magical year of my life living among the wonderful Saami in Finland 250 km above the Arctic Circle. An unforgettable experience tied to reindeers, nature, and the cycle of life. Thanks for the photos.

  8. Unknown says:

    Thank you for bringing the Saami to our attention. I was not aware of their existence or way of life. Another reminder, we all have so much to learn about each other.

  9. Jukka Selenius says:

    The pictures were very fine, to us Finns they are familiar but a little oldfashion. The clothes have not changed so much,but the festivity clothes are now a days very bright,blue and all the rainbow colors
    Here in Helsinki there lives about thousen city sami (in finnish saamelainen). The new times arrive also Lappland. The northern most area of Finland lappland , about 1300 km from Helsinki. The nomadi style having reindeer is not so usualany more , but they use skiidoos and even a helicopter to gain the reindeer herds to cut the reindeer calfs the owners marks.As the reindeer is half tame animal the have the calfs in nature the normal way. In summertime the reindeer are in low areas. If they happen to stand on the road they are as stubborn as a donkey, it is very difficult to push it away. When the mosquitos arrive the reindeer move to higher mountains where is much colder. A reinedeer is said to feel comfortable in -42 C degrees, In that temp they don´t sweat!

  10. gKely says:

    These images give us a meaningful link to an artic herders community not so different from the siberian reindeer ones, confirming cultural adaptation and/or coevolution within similar environments.

  11. gKely says:

    These images give us a meaningful link to an artic herders community not so different from the siberian reindeer ones, confirming cultural adaptation and/or coevolution within similar environments.

  12. Unknown says:

    Wow! Very similar to use, North American First Nations, except the herding

  13. The Sami singer-song writer Mari Boine is a renowned advocate of her people. She has made many albums, combining traditional yoik singing with modern style music. Search for her and listen to her songs (in Saami language or Norwegian / English) . She is the perfect ambassador for her people. To see her, look at this video:


  14. Marco942 says:

    Fantastic images

  15. Unknown says:

    More pictures and the story of the Sami people here: http://saamiblog.blogspot.no/

  16. M. Flores says:

    Thank you so much for these photos!

  17. Mer says:

    Wonderful to see this. THANK YOU FOR SHARING. I am inspired to reconnect with Saami friends in Minnesota that I have not seen for a decade.

  18. Lovely images! It gives a sence of hardmanship! I wonder who they are, their names....
    I hope they keep this culture alive and dont give in all to much for modern society! Thank you for sharing!

  19. Unknown says:

    Thanks for posting these photos. I remember a Christmas in Jokkmokk together with a wonderful Sami family, that "adopted" me for a whole week. I still have the leather boots with the turned up nose. Hope all indigenous people around the world will be protected and respected. Tehy know how to live of and with the Earth.

  20. The last image is of one of the exhibition samis living parts of the year in Skansen. An open air exhibition in Stockholm. Alas very exotified and out of her natural environment.

  21. b says:

    Here are more than 2000 pictures mostly related to the Sami people and their culture. https://www.flickr.com/photos/28772513@N07/

  22. Anonymous says:

    I have reconnected with my Swedish family with the help of a genealogist over the last year. She was able to help me find distant cousins and I visited them the summer of 2015. I was able to trace their migration through Sweden from the North and the Sami people to the South and eventually to the United States. I am proud of our lineage and I am glad we are learning more about the Sami culture. Thank you for the pictures. Through them, I clearly see my great-grandfather's genetics. He looks exactly like the men in the pictures. There is a baby that looks like my grandmother's baby picture and I look like the woman with red hair. I had not realized that Swedes had red hair until I visited this summer and had always wondered where my red hair had come from. I am the only one in my family that has it.

  23. Chatora says:

    Sámi ganda
    I could not agree with you more!

  24. Their teepees and lifestyle resemble Native Americans also. Clothing differs. These were tough people, albeit naive by our standards.

  25. Mahtavia kuvia mahtavasta kansastamme. I feel sorry on behalf our finnish government for its idleness.

  26. Unknown says:

    So beautiful... thanks for sharing !

  27. The tipis and cradleboards echo ancient commonalities and origins. Great pictures!

  28. Unknown says:

    I am Sami, and proud. Thanks for posting Our Cultural Heritage!

  29. Anonymous says:


  30. Anonymous says:

    I suppose if I go find me some far away lost land in a ravine or crevice somewhere and raise a few generations of my kids kids kids then they would call me/us a indigenous people right ? lol

  31. Unknown says:

    I am so glad to see pictures of these people! Thank you!

  32. casey says:

    excellent thank you for posting these pictures.

  33. Unknown says:

    You can see both Asian and Nordic facial features!

  34. thank you for sharing these great, historical photographs. what a wonderful people they are.

  35. Unknown says:

    From the harshest of climates come the warmest of souls.

  36. Unknown says:

    Land does not belong to people...people belong to the land..apparently my DNA says I am 2% Finnish..

  37. Thanks for sharing these photos.

  38. Unknown says:

    Very nice. I have added this page to my website about Finno-Ugric people. The Finns have coexisted with the Saami for hundreds if not thousands of years, perhaps back to the Ice Ages. Both share a Uralic Language and Saami has many words that are close to Finnish. What comes to mind is the word "Kota." That is a Saami word for their TP style home. The Finnish word is "Koti." My people lived around Lake Ladoga and my father says that the Saami were that far south in the old days but encroachment from the south, farms, and taxation by Finns and Other Scandinavians drove them further north. Of course the reindeer do better there anyway. During times of famine in Finland, Finns actually gave their children to Saami so at least they could survive, since the Saami always had food from reindeer. Here is my web site if you are interested: http://uralica.com/finland.html

  39. Unknown says:

    I have Saami ancestry. :)

  40. Alison P says:

    Wonderful! Really inspiring to see these people and their pride in themselves and their lifestyle.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I am a Sámi and thank you for posting these pictures. Some of the people on the pics are my relatives. In case someone gets confused by the comments here; Finns are not the same as Sámi. The languages are in family, though.

  42. Unknown says:

    Amazing to see these beautiful photos
    Of family in the years were change was
    Taking place miles away, to have someone
    Tell you your life is gone and you
    Can't live your life no more, and who
    Was deciding that ?

  43. Unknown says:

    I just learned of the Sami and wondered about their genetic makeup. As other posters mentioned I recognize nordic and asian features which makes sense.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Here in Australia I lament at what we Europeans have inflicted upon our indigenous people.These images are a powerful reminder of what we all owe to our true heritage and what we,in the modern world,can learn from our links to Mother Nature. Thank you for these inspirational and heart-warming images. Paul (Melbourne ,Australia)

  45. Unknown says:

    I am a Sámi living in Norway. It is wonderful to read these comments, as they are all positive. The reality here in our region, however, is diffrent. A LOT of racism still exists against us. Comment sections in say norwegian/Swedish/Finnish papers are almost entirely made up of racistic and negative comment.

  46. Lady Beth says:

    Nice to see my distant relatives from Sweden! :-)

  47. Mary says:

    My maternal grandparents came from Northern Sweden above the Arctic Circle. I think my grandfather may have had some Sami heritage.

  48. yorgisali says:

    Before the end of the last glaciation (12,000 years ago) the ancestors of the Saami lived much farther south. Then as the ice receded North, they followed the reindeer, which went north because their food supply--reindeer lichen--"moved" north. Since that time, the Saami have differentiated from other Finno-Ugric people, who did not live with reindeer and were not compelled to migrate North.

  49. Beautiful people and beautiful dogs. I had a Sami (samoyed) dog; the greatest nordic smile with the noblest heart.

  50. Some dumb comments of course, but a lot of really interesting ones! Thanks for those. Part of my family came from Jamtland. I didn't know the Samis were that far south. I did know that Jamtland had an independent history, and that its flag crest shows a noble moose being annoyed by an eagle (representing Stockholm) and a dog (Norway).

  51. Unknown says:

    What wonderful and evocative photographs of Sami. I have been fascinated by the Sami since I was a little girl. My Norwegian grandfather from Kristiansund N. was a fish broker and did a lot of business in Finnmark. He used to tell me stories about the Sami and their reindeer, it was like listening to fairytales. In 1946, when my Norwegian mother was 6 years old, went on a business trip to Finnmark with her mother and father+ she was the youngest by 11 years old and none of her siblings wanted the responsibility of taking care of her, she actually rode in a sled pulled by reindeer driven by Samu from Karasjok to Kautokeino, Finnmark. It was through an area which at that time was impassable any other way+ before snowmobiles. I was always so envious that she actually got to ride in a real reindeer sled. I am happy that the Sami have their own Parliament. Amazing people who know how to live off the land in a wicked, brutal climate. Long may they ride.

  52. eddie702 says:

    What unexpected yet wonderful knowledge one gains about one’s self through DNA tests. I always knew that I was half Lebanese or from people from the Levant region on my father’s side ( both grandparents from Lebanon), and on my Mother’s side, both maternal grandparents were Swedish Last year I broke ranks from most of my friends, who submitted their tests to Ancestry.com, Heritage
    and 123, and sent my sample to Living DNA, which is highly rated except tends to emphasize those whose purportedly ancestries are from the UK/Ireland which I found out from probably my Mother’s side I have British roots. But the most curious information gain from their independent test of my Mother’s side , the Hapla gene pool showed that I was 7 percent Sami , 2 percent Mare. Four years ago I visited my Lebanese cousin and his wife in Helsinki (Finland,)she was working there for the Mexican Consulate , I took a 3 day trip to Lapland and hiked. Hiked for 5 hours and proudly wear a khaki colored tee shirt bought in Lapland. Like another poster I can see facial characteristics of my Mother, and her father ( my grandfather) similar yo the Sami .I am a scholar that usually focuses and published on Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and issues on Palestine relating to indigenous peoples and African Americans, I would like to source out and read scholarly articles and books on the Sami. If anyone can help in this regard my email is :dianeshammas@yahoo.com

  53. Swewolf says:

    You can really see the the similarity to the North American Indians! have been up north in Sweden when I was a kid and met some of them! Tried to learn how to throw a lasso!

  54. Nizhoniyee' Could be our long lost relatives who crossed the Bering Strait and took a different route. The circular home looks like our hogan and we also have cradle boards for our Dine babies. How nice to see the resemblence.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I just read a book by Francis Pryor an archeologist in England he talked about turf houses is pre bronze age Briton and low and behold there they are

  56. Unknown says:

    The earthly connection....so obvious. I sure would love to see the color of/in their eyes.....would even be more expressed, from their smooth facial expressions for the most part.

  57. I am a Sámi artist. In 1975, when I was 25, I made a map of Sámiland, SÁBMI, here is a link:

  58. Unknown says:

    This is Precious ancestral information for which I'm grateful and in enjoyment of. 🌹

  59. I am a third generation European born in Australia grown is the northern regions of this great island, I have in just my short life of 31 years seen, felt, heard the cries of ancient cultural injustice. My last name is Vinson and have losly placed my liniage with the help of my Vinson family within Finnish heratige. But as all truth is lost of my identity reading this article give me flourishing emotions that sway tendency towards Sami culture and my understanding of life. In Australia aboriginal cultures have been crushed, decomposed, laughed at, and slandered they also are still fighting for stability to return to their in-depth and meaningful culture and also the rights to practice indigenous trade and communicative stature as they did before colonial takeover. I wish to inform all people of Sapmi that they stand not alone in their fight for natural life, many are standing beside you with hands heads and spines pointed true.

  60. Anonymous says:

    from my research there are many more people(Scandinavian Americans mainly) who are of Saami descent but have no idea as there was a strong effort to erase the Saami culture in the 1700's. A soft genicide for the most part. (The Saami children in Norway eg. were indoctrinated into Viking Culture instead.) I only discoverd recently by accident that my family were all Saami. Anyhow I am still proud of my Viking cultural heritage despite the deception. (Harald Hardrada took his wife from the coastal Saami and was said to be able to summon up to 500 coastal Saami into combat in short notice, putting him over the top in Norway for sure, as they were considered to by competent fighters obviously) My Saami of Mo i Rana were surely a part Harald's story too.

  61. Anonymous says:

    its me again with all the mis-spellings and upon fact checking myself with Wiki I found that Harald officially married(checking) Elisev of Kiev the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise. not to load this site up with Norse Mythology but I have read somewhere that Harald or his kin had Saami children. by the way some family photos from the studios of B.(Barbara) Baarsen (spelling correct i think) who was a well known Saami photographer now make more sense as i only discovered that my own family were Saami a few months ago. I can't find but there were great photos of Barbara Baarsen's daughter in traditional clothing that used to be somewhere on the a photographic website based in Norway. i am not sure but I wonder if Barbara Baarsen is not related to the Saami Shaman Quive Baarsen who was only one of many(26?) Saami who were murdered for their religious practices i think in the 1600s-early 1800's. I wonder if anyone knows if Barbara and Quive Baarsen are related and if they have seen or heard of Barbara Baarsen's photographic work? One other thing, Mo i Rana was referred to on Barbara Baarsen's studio photographs as MO RANEN. Was the named changed or is it just a linguistic variant? Unfortunately the photo I have is not at all in traditional wear, but B.Baarsen's documentation of the Saami is extensive from what I had seen a few years ago.

  62. Anonymous says:

    upon checking Wiki again it says in short about Snaefrithr Svasadottir "She is described as a Sami woman and is according to the Sagas, the ancestor of Harold Hardrada." differences in sources and names get very confusing and seem conflicting at times so I will defer to this Wiki entry on the subject.
    also, the tragic and unjustice killings of Shaman Quive Baarsen and many of the others were technically "unjust judicial executions," not murder as i stated above, as in Quive Baarsen's case, he was judged guilty and burned alive. will let it be at that, as the words are only a technicality and it is such a depressing but little known piece of history...enough said.

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