Sápmi land of no borders
Many countries and destinations are working on branding. They want to work out what their core values are and then communicate this to the rest of the world. Thereby they hope to attract visitors and investors.
For Sápmi it is 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 country in the western sense of the word. So others claim us as part of their country. In northern Scandinavia so much footage has been used to create a Sámi image by tourism agencies to sell a destination based on a people’s culture without tourism experts knowing the culture or bothering to cooperate with the subjects.
Across the Barents region tourism destinations call themselves Lapland and add their country or municipality name to Lapland. This is done since the word Lapland evokes positive feelings. People will think of reindeers, Sámi, snow and Santa Claus. But we, the Sámi never have called our country Lapland as many foreigners think. It is a colonial word invented by other people colonizing and pushing away the Sámi. And the term Lapland is still used to exploit the Sámi culture.
We have started the process of reclaiming our heritage so we can influence how our culture and way of life is described. Together with many Sámi, marketing experts, VisitSweden and experts in International and responsible tourism we have done our own branding of Sápmi. By this we hope to attract people that appreciate our way of life and want to share it with us in a responsible way.
These are core value themes we have settled on.
The common denominator in Sámi culture is the reindeer. It has strong symbolic importance and it is still core in our main industry. It unites 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
- Lust for travel
Holistic approach is common among indigenous people. This is also true for the Sámi. Present, past, future, people, animals, plants, nature – all is integrated and spiritual. Decisions taken on use of land, like tourism or forestry, must be regarded holistically and thought over thoroughly before decisions are made. This approach often collides with western world development schemes and western habit of compartmentalization. Sámi tourism has to be developed with holistic approach, all aspects considered and all life cared for. This means ethic, sustainable and responsible tourism is the only way to go if tourism is to be accepted.
No borders. Nature’s cycles and the nomadic roaming of the reindeer have guided work and lifestyle since the beginning. It is how reindeer herding Sámi want to live and work with reindeers. Landowner boarders, municipal borders, regional borders and national borders where invented later and now threaten the survival of the reindeer herding. Landowner disputes and authorities resistance to give the Sámi right of land use are daily worries in the Sámi world. Today, people outside the Sámi communities rule over most of our means to survive. This also affects Sámi views on tourism. It is an industry that has intruded a lot in Sápmi. VisitSápmi wants to reclaim tourism to Sápmi and help reindeer herders see that there is a beneficial side to tourism. We also wish to offer the visitor opportunities to be informed and to travel across all borders for best possible experience. Sápmi spans four nations, approximately 15 regions and four countries. It is a shared culture all the way from Idre in Dalarna Sweden to the Kola Peninsula in Russia.
Mutual respect between guest and host has strong traditional importance in the Sámi community. In tourism this means that we need to tell visitors how to enjoy Sámi hospitality in a relaxed and respectful way. Sámi history is a long tale of visitors and colonizers robbing, destroying or neglecting Sámi values. Spiritual ways, language and religion have been quenched for centuries.
Lust for travel and nomadic life is something that unites visitor and Sámi. Although Sámi today are not nomadic there is still a strong urge to travel. When you travel in Sápmi we want you to travel in knowledge as well as in geography. Among people that travel the camp fire, the cross road, the hotel bar, a Sámi restaurant etc. 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 at old and new resting places on the road or in Sápmi beyond roads.
Published 588 days ago by dan.jonasson