Sápmi land of no borders
Many countries and destinations are working on branding. They want to determine what their core values are and how to communicate them to the rest of the world. By better understanding their own brand DNA they hope to attract visitors and investors.
For Sápmi it is perhaps more important than for most destinations to let the rest of the world understand the core values of our culture and country. We have no modern-day country with delineated borders in the post-colonial sense of the word. So others claim our land as part of their country. In northern Scandinavia miles of promotional film has been shot to create a Sámi image to be used by tourism agencies. The intention has been to promote a destination based on a people’s culture yet the tourism experts failed to understand the culture or bothered to cooperate with the subjects.
Across the Barents region tourism destinations call themselves Lapland and add their country or municipality name to Lapland. This strategy is undertaken as the word Lapland evokes positive feelings abroad. People image a fantasyland of reindeers, Laplanders, snow and Santa Claus. But we, the Sámi never have called our country Lapland as many foreigners believe. It is a colonial word invented by outsiders colonizing and pushing out and marginalising the Sámi. So if true be known, the term Lapland is still used to exploit Sámi culture.
We, the Sámi have started the process of reclaiming our heritage so we can influence how our culture and way of life is experienced and described. Collectively many Sámi, along with marketing experts, VisitSweden and specialists in International and responsible tourism have created our own branding of Sápmi. Through our own interpretation of our culture we hope to attract visitors that appreciate our way of life and want to share it with us in a responsible manner.
These are core value we have worked with:
From the beginning we have stated that the common thread of Sámi culture is the reindeer. It has strong symbolic and cultural importance and it is still at the core of Sámi livelihoods. Reindeer are at the centre of our existence and they unite Sámi everywhere. Reindeer herding makes us unique. There is no other livelihood like it anywhere else in the world.
- Holistic approach
- No Borders
- Mutual respect
1. Holistic approach to life is common among indigenous peoples. This is also true for the Sámi. Present, past, future, people, animals, plants, nature, landscape – all is integrated and spiritual. Decisions taken on use of land, like tourism or forestry, must be regarded holistically and thought over collectively before decisions are made. This approach often collides with western world development schemes and the modern habit of compartmentalization and individual ownership. Sámi tourism has to be developed with holistic approach, all aspects considered and all life nurtured. This means ethical, sustainable and responsible tourism is the only way forward if tourism is to be accepted.
2. No borders. Nature’s cycles and the nomadic roaming of the reindeer have guided livelihoods and lifestyle since the beginning. It is how reindeer herding Sámi desire to live and herd their reindeers. Landowner boarders, municipal borders, regional borders and national borders where imposed later and now threaten the survival of the reindeer herding. Landowner disputes and the authorities resistance to give the Sámi the traditional right of land use are daily worries in the Sámi world. Today, people outside the Sámi communities rule over our lands and our means of survival. This also impacts Sámi views on tourism. It is an industry that has significantly intruded on Sápmi. VisitSápmi wants to reclaim tourism for Sápmi and help reindeer herders see that there is a beneficial and positive side to tourism. We aim to offer visitors the opportunity to learn about our culture and to enjoy exceptional Sámi operated experiences as they travel across our land of no borders. Sápmi spans four nations, approximately 15 regions and four modern day countries. It is a shared culture spanning from Idre in mid-Sweden to the Kola Peninsula in Russia.
3. Mutual respect between guest and host has strong traditional importance in Sámi society. In tourism terms this means that we need to ensure visitors enjoy Sámi hospitality in a relaxed and respectful way. Sámi history is a long tale of outsiders and colonizers robbing, destroying or neglecting Sámi values. Sámi spiritual ways, language and religion have been suppressed for centuries.
4. Wanderlust and nomadic life is something that unites visitors and Sámi. Although the Sámi today are not nomadic there is still a strong urge to wander, immersed in the landscape. When you travel in Sápmi we want you to enrich your mind as well as enjoy the scenery. For people with wanderlust meeting places such as the camp fire, the cross road, the hotel bar or a Sámi restaurant are places where stories, knowhow and tales are shared. Sámi oral tradition is strong and we want to create opportunities for Sámi and visitors to share tales and exchange cultural values no matter where their journey takes them.
Published 500 days ago by dan.jonasson
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