Photo: Carl-Johan Utsi
Laponia is a saami cultural landscape and a part of Sápmi. The places here bear Sami names and with them, memories and history. It is our home, our roots, our workplace and our livelihood. It is a World Heritage Site where reindeer are actively worked with and the Sami culture is strongly influenced by the reindeer, over thousands of years. For the nine Sami communities that have their lands in Laponia, the World Heritage Site is only a small part of the area they live in and depend on. Without the parts of the sameby’s lands that lie outside Laponia, there would be no functioning reindeer husbandry in the World Heritage Site and thus no World Heritage Site.
Most of the people who work with reindeer in Laponia were raised that way in the family. Many people hunt, fish and work in duodji (handicrafts) as ancillary activities to reindeer husbandry. The work is guided by the weather but still follows a set rhythm throughout the eight seasons of the year. If you live close to nature as you do here, the contrasts are great and the changes are clearly visible. Each season has its task.
The reindeer herds are made up of privately owned animals with a combination of cuts in the ear showing who the owner is. In July, the herds are gathered in pastures and this year’s calves are marked. During the fall and early winter, some of them are slaughtered. Most of the slaughtered animals are sold, but much of what the reindeer provide in the form of meat, skins and other materials is used in the household. Visitors should remember that this is a living world heritage site where people still live and work today.
Different dialects of Sámi are spoken in Sápmi. Laponia is located in the Lule Sami language area, but South Sami and North Sami are also spoken in the area. Laponiatjuottjudus works to make the Sami languages spoken in the World Heritage Site visible and accessible in various ways. This includes maintaining a good place-name custom and translating selected parts of the information and work into Sami, which is intended for native Sami speakers. Since 2000, in addition to the Act on National Minorities and Minority Languages, the first chapter of the Cultural Heritage Act contains a consideration clause on place names. The paragraph states, inter alia, that:
– traditional place names cannot be changed without strong reasons.
– Place names are spelled according to accepted rules of linguistic accuracy, unless traditional spellings indicate otherwise.
– the impact on traditional names is taken into account when creating new place names.
– Swedish, Sámi and Finnish names are used as far as possible simultaneously on maps and in signage and other markings in multilingual areas.
– names approved for public map production shall also be used in their approved form in other contexts.
– The land registry is the authority responsible for place names and any changes to them.