Skip navigation

Saami National Day celebrated in Murmansk region

The governor of the oblast, Andrei Chibis, congratulated the local Saami people on the occasion of the celebration and noted that the Saami will be given a great deal of support, with 53 million roubles earmarked for 2023.

saamid murmanskis

With this money, the Saami can use the land for reindeer husbandry; for personal use, they receive free firewood, as well as prescription medicines. Saami women are allowed to retire at the age of 50 and men at 55.

However, the support provided is not enough to increase the number of Saami, said Saami activist Valentina Sovkina. The number of Saami in Murmansk Oblast has decreased by 23% compared to 2002, when 1769 Saami lived there.

There are currently 1,363 Saami living in Murmansk Oblast, and the oblast leadership understands the importance of preserving and protecting the Saami cultural heritage, according to Chibis. For example, he stressed that Saami handicrafts are the region’s calling card and should be given more prominence because Saami culture and traditions need to be supported.

On 6 February, a ceremonial flag-raising ceremony took place in front of the Murmansk Oblast Centre for Northern Peoples and International Relations, and an exhibition ‘The Voice of the Saami People’, based on the collections of Nina Afanasyeva, head of the local Saami association, was opened at the Oblast Museum of Domestic Animals. Russian-language books on Saami themes were presented in the local scientific library. An exhibition of Saami costumes was opened at the Saami centre in Lujávr (Lovozero) and a festive concert was held in the evening.

In Murmansk Oblast, Saami is spoken by about 200 people, but only 16% of the 1,400 Saami living there consider Saami their mother tongue. The main language spoken on the Kola Peninsula is Kildin Saami, the only one of the nine Saami languages written in Cyrillic.