Sunday 6 February marked Sámi people’s day. Crown Prince Regent Haakon marked the day with a digital greeting to all Norwegian Sámi and those who are part of the Sámi culture and have indigenous ancestors.
His Royal Highness said: “Dear all, Lihkku beivviin! Happy Birthday! Today is Sámi people’s day and all of you with a Sámi affiliation can feel a little extra pride. The rest of us would very much like to celebrate the freedom and right to our own culture, identity and language. On this day, I think especially of all the nice visits we have had to Sámi places. We have met so many nice people and had good times with you. We look forward to the next time we can make such a visit again. Then again, congratulations on the day, Lihkku beivviin!”
The Sámi National Day has been marked in Oslo City Hall every year since 2003. In 2019 Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon attended the event to mark the first time that the Sámi flag has been used by City Hall in Oslo. The Sámi national anthem, Sámi soga lávlla, was played by the City Hall’s bells during the flag raising ceremony. A such grand ceremony was not able to have this year due to the pandemic. Also in 2019, a brand new exhibition opened on Sámi culture in Queen Sonja’s Art Stable. The exhibition showed the art from three generations of Sámi artists and was the largest presentation of Sámi art in Oslo ever.
Also in 2019 King Harald visited the Sámi-people during his two-day long visit to Norway’s most northern county. The first day of the visit went to the Sámi areas of the county to highlight their language and culture.
The Sámi people are a Finno-Ugric people inhabiting large parts of Norway and Sweden, northern parts of Finland, and the Murmansk Oblast of Russia. The Sámi have historically been known in English as Lapps. Traditionally, the Sámi have pursued a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping, and sheep herding and as a semi-nomadic reindeer herding people. The number of Sami people is estimated to be around 100,000 people, about 40,000 of them lives in Norway. Of these, only approximately 15% of then can write Sami, and it is estimated that only 30% of those with a Sami background can speak one of the Sami languages. The Sami people have a special position in Norway, as they are considered to be a “national minority”.