Yliopiston etusivulle Suomeksi Sámegillii In English
Sámi Studies Suomalais-ugrilainen laitos
Test version
Helsingin yliopisto Uumajan yliopisto


 The Encyclopaedia of Saami Culture project got under way in connection with a course in Saami Studies that began in the University of Helsinki in 1993. Planning commenced in 1998, and the project was granted funding for two years from the EU in 2001. The project is being carried out in the Department of Finno-Ugrian Studies of the University of Helsinki in conjunction with the department of Saami Studies of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Troms° in Norway and the Department of Archaeology and Sami Studies of the University of Umeň in Sweden, the Algu project (an etymological data bank of the Saami languages) of the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland and the Finnish Literary Society. The objective is to compile and systematize information about the Saami - the indigenous people of northern Europe - across national frontiers. The project aims to create on the internet a wide-ranging electronic data bank in Finnish, English and later also in Saami. It is also intended that the encyclopaedia will be published in book format by the Finnish Literary Society.

Saami culture is not an integral whole; rather it embraces a number of different cultures and languages. Sßpmi (Saamiland) is a vast area stretching from central Norway and Sweden across northernmost Finland to the eastern end of the Kola Peninsula. This area lying within four different states is inhabited by 60,000-70,000 Saamis. The Saami languages differ from each other to the extent that speakers of one language do not necessarily understand speakers of another. In addition, there are regional varieties within the languages, and for example North Saami is divided into four distinct major dialects. We have striven to take account of this multiplicity by presenting information particularly about minority groups within the Saami people, such as the Saamis of the Kola Peninsula, who have so far been ignored in research on Saami culture. Because of the wide spectrum of Saami culture, it is impossible to collect all the existing research material into this encyclopaedia. We start with the findings in those fields that the members of the editorial board are themselves most familiar with, but we have also recruited experts from outside the group to contribute. We have regarded it as being of primary importance that the voices of the Saami groups themselves are represented. The emphasis is on recent research and data and documentation produced by the Saami themselves. The encyclopaedia consists of about 2000 articles. The basic articles deal with the Saami languages, history, folklore, literature, music, the economy, nature and occupations, the media, legal matters, education, art, social conditions, and so on. The most important aspects of each area are dealt with in extensive articles. There are also articles dealing with notable persons who have influenced and helped to create Saami culture, and there are definitions of words and concepts that are characteristic of it. The encyclopaedia also contains 49 articles on the etymologies of words (italicized) that are significantly connected with the culture of the Saami people. In addition, the encyclopaedia is illustrated with pictures, maps and voice samples.

The publication of the encyclopaedia in electronic format makes it possible to supplement and update the information later on. The version now being published is a pilot project which will create an opportunity for more extensive networking between scholars engaged in Saami Studies. Our goal is to add to the data, to develop the electronic version for teaching purposes and to enhance the web site both visually and technically.

Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to reproduce all the characters of the orthographies of the Saami languages in the internet version. Consequently, special Saami characters are represented by an asterisk (*) and the palatalized consonants of Skolt Saami by a double asterisk (**).

Members of the editorial board and their areas of responsibility:

Christian Carpelan (University of Helsinki): archaeology, history, ethnography
Ulla-Maija Kulonen (University of Helsinki): Saami language
Risto Pulkkinen (University of Helsinki): religion and Lappological research
Irja Seurujńrvi-Kari (University of Helsinki), Project Manager: education, social conditions, modern culture, occupations, environment
Jelena Porsanger(University of Troms°): mythology, traditions, literature
Olavi Korhonen and Mikael Svonni (University of Umeň): Swedish Saami affairs, place names and regions
Lars-Dan Beck (University of Helsinki), Data base system