The Sámi way of life relates closely to nature and the landscape. The Sámi’s traditional knowledge is built on generations of experience, in which building materials for dwellings and reindeer corrals were taken from natural surroundings. When a dwelling was no longer used, the constructions gradually deteriorated and returned to nature. The only traces of old settlements are stones, placed around a fireplace in tents or huts, hardly visible among the moss and shrubs.
Sustainable living fully based on nature
Sámi livelihoods were almost entirely based on nature’s bounty: fish from the lakes, vegetables such as Rumex acetosa and Angelica Arcangelica, as well as reindeer meat and milk. When a reindeer was slaughtered, all parts of the animal were put to use. Fur was used for clothes, meat and marrow for food, sinews for making threads, and antlers for handicraft.
Historically, reindeer cows were milked during late summer and autumn, and milk was used to make cheese. Sorrel blades were mixed with the milk, which was stored and fermented to create a product called Juobmo, which is comparable with modern day yoghurt. Discrete traces of these intensive reindeer herding and milking practices can be still found in the mountains’ green summer meadows.
Sami traditional way of life affected
During the twentieth century, the Sámi way of life started to become affected by changes in the adjacent world. One of the most significant being the replacement of reindeer with snowmobiles for transport. Modern vehicles remain a part of reindeer herding today. During winter, families live in modern houses and children go to school. However, the moveable tent is still used in summer during calf marking, when the whole family can stay together in the mountains for this intensive period of work. Sámi traditions are still strong and, among reindeer herding families, the reindeer and products from the animals are still the focus of everyday life.