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Samis Celebrate National Day

Published lördag 6 februari 2010 kl 11.07
Samis in traditional dress in Jokkmokk

The indigenous people of northern Scandinavia, the Samis, are celebrating their National Day today with events staged around Sweden and neighbouring countries.

The Samis, or Lapps, are the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia, and today they number around 85,000. Twenty thousand live in Sweden, perhaps twice as many in Norway, and smaller numbers in northern Finland and the Kola peninsula in Russia. The Sis are regarded as the oldest peoples of Europe.

Many of Sweden's Samis now live in Stockholm, and one of the country's major celebrations of the Sami national day is at Skansen, Stockholm's outdoor cultural museum.

After centuries of exploitation at the hands of their Scandinavian neighbours, today the Samis face far fewer problems than many indigenous peoples in other parts of the world. However they do still have problems including a fight for land rights - Unlike Norway and Finland, Sweden still refuses to sign the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples - fearing that the non-sami residents of northern Sweden would lose their land rights.

Sami Day falls on February sixth because this date was when the first Sami congress was held in Norway in 1917 with Norwegian and Swedish Sami coming together for the first time to try and solve their problems collectively. The first time Sami National Day was celebrated was in 1993

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