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Saami Literature Museum 30 years

On 18 April, the 30th birthday of the only museum dedicated to Saami language and literature in the Russian Federation was celebrated in the village of Revda of Murmansk Region.

saami muuseum

The Saami Literature museum, with its collection of Saami linguistic heritage, plays an important role in the preservation and development of local Saami culture.

In total, the museum’s collections include more than three thousand exhibits. Thanks to the museum’s director, Nadezhda Bolshakova, the materials of the first Kildin Saami poet, Oktyabrina Voronova (1934-1990), have been collected and carefully preserved. Her first collection of poetry in Kildin Saami was published after her death in 1991. The museum bears Oktyabrina Voronova’s name.

The museum’s collections also include information on other Saami writers and poets from the Kola Peninsula. The collection also include information on Saami literature and manuscripts, and Saami handicrafts.

The museum was established in 1994 in the village of Revda, near the Saami centre of Lujavri (Lovozero). The founder of the museum is Nadezhda Bolshakova, herself a writer. However, the idea for the museum belongs to Viktor Timofeyev, a poet who lives in Murmansk. For the first four years the museum operated as a private exhibition. Since 1998 it has been a branch of the Lujavr Central Library.

Saami in Russia

Most Saami in Russia live in Murmansk Oblast. The Saami are a minority in Murmansk Oblast, making up only 0.15 % of the whole population according to the all-union census of 1989. In 2002, there were 1991 Saami in Russia, further declining to 1771 by 2010. According the 2021 census, there were 1530 Saami in Russia, a decrease of 13,6% from the previous census. The number of Saami language speakers decreased from 353 in 2010 to 259 in 2021. This reflects fast language and cultural assimilation of Russia’s Saami and making Saami language one of the fastest disappearing Uralic languages in Russia.

Today the Saami have the status of indigenous people at the Russian Federation level as well as at the regional level. The Saami belong to the so-called small-numbered indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East at the federal level. Also in the legislation of the Murmansk Oblast, the Saami are recognised as an indigenous people.