National minorities

Sami celebrate national day at City Hall

3:17 min

Today Sami people in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia celebrate the Sami National Day. Feted every year on February 6, the date marks the first Sami Congress, which was held in Trondheim, Norway in 1917. It has been recognized as the Sami National Day since 1993.

In Stockholm a small group gathered in the bitter cold early morning air in front of City Hall to sing the Sami national anthem and watch the flag-raising ceremony.

Inge Frisk from the Stockholm Sami Association said the organisation presented the flag that was raised over Riddarfjärden at 9 a.m. to City Hall in 2006.

“It represents our relationship to the environment – the blue for the water, the yellow for the sun, the red for the living in the blood and the green for whatever you take from the nature,” said Frisk.

Treatment of Samis has changed dramatically and for the better over the years in Sweden, says Frisk.

“Here in Stockholm people are very appreciative of your descent and see the struggle for you to regain your identity and language. In my family history the Sami was kind of rejected for a long time, although everyone knew we were of Sami descent,” says Frisk.

Frisk says there are between 22,000 and 55,000 Sami people in Sweden today depending on how you count. The former is the official count, while the latter includes demographic studies of people people with Sami blood.

Ann-Helen Laestadius, a Sami writer of youth books, also attended the flag-raising ceremony. She said when she was growing up in Kiruna in the 1980s it was not uncommon to be ashamed of being a Sami.

“The situation was even worse when my mother grew up. Today it’s so much better. We have Sametinget, the Sami Parliament and we are acknowledged as a national minority so it’s a bit different. It’s a big difference. It’s much better,” said Laestadius.