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Saami National Day

On 6 February 1917, the Saami living in the Nordic countries began their political cross-border cooperation. The day was designated as the Saami National Day in 1992.

The first Nordic Saami Assembly was held in Trondheim, Norway on 6 February 1917. The assembly was chaired by Elsa Laura Renberg and attended by Saami from Swedish and Norwegian organisations. This meeting laid the foundation for further Saami cooperation in the Nordic countries. Held during the turmoil of the First World War and its aftermath, the assembly was contemporary with a rising nationalist sentiment across the European continent and among Finno-Ugric peoples.

The Nordic assembly was followed by the organisation of the first state-level Saami meetings in Sweden (1918) and Norway (1919). Saami activity in Finland began with the foundation of the Society for the Promotion of Saami Culture (Sámi Čuvgehussearvi) in 1932, followed by the Saami Union (Samii Litto) in 1945.

Some decades after the first Nordic Saami Assembly, the first Nordic Saami Conference was organised in Jokkmokk, Sweden in 1953 to discuss issues related to the Saami. Delegations to the conference came from Sweden, Norway, and Finland. The Nordic Saami Conference became the highest deciding organ of the Saami. The second Nordic Saami Conference was organised in 1956, the result of which was the creation of the Saami Council on 18 August. The Council’s work is based on the resolutions, declarations, and political programmes of the Saami Conferences, and aims to further Saami political issues.

The political representation of the Saami on national levels began in Finland with the creation of the Finnish Saami Delegation in 1973. Since then, Saami Parliaments have been founded in Norway (1989) and Sweden (1993). In 1996, the Finnish Saami Delegation was changed to the Saami Parliament of Finland. A common political framework for the three Saami Parliaments, the Saami Parliamentary Council, was founded in 2000.

Two conferences in particular, the 13th Nordic Saami Conference in Åre, Sweden in 1986, and the 15th Nordic Saami Conference in Helsinki in 1992, are important for the history of the national Saami symbols. In the first of the two, the Saami flag as designed by Astrid Båhl was officially adopted as a national symbol. Also, the poem Sámi soga lávlla (Song of the Saami People) by the first Saami statesman in Norway, Isak Saba, was adopted as the national anthem. The 15th Nordic Saami Conference approved the music for the poem as composed by Arne Sørli. Also in this conference, the date of the first Saami Assembly, 6 February, was adopted as the official Saami National Day, and the name of the conference was changed by removing ‘Nordic’ from it because of the Kola Saami organisations joining the conference for the first time.

Buori sámi álbmotbeaivvi buohkaide!
Pyeri säämi aalmugpeeivi puohháid!
Šiõǥǥ saa’mi meersažpe’ivv pukid!
Vuorbbe sáme álmmukbiejvijn!
Læhkoe saemiej åålmegebiejjine!
Happy Saami National Day!