King Harald highlights Sami language and culture

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway is currently on a two-day long visit to Norway’s most northern county, Finnmark. The first day of the visit went to the Sami areas of the county to highlight their language and culture. King Harald started the visit at Karasjok Primary School, where the principal Jan Gunnar Johansen welcomed him. The King was also welcomed with flowers given to him by the local children.

The students at Karasjok have worked a lot with the Sami language and created their own exhibition in connection with the King’s visit. Student Council Representatives, Jana Linneá Sara Gulsrud and Mia Cecilie Siri, showed the King around in the exhibition. The exhibition consisted of pictures of the landscape in the county of Finnmark and Sami traditions such as reindeer herding.

His Majesty the King with two Sami-children in traditional costumes. Photo: Guri Varpen / The Royal Court.

From the exhibition, His Majesty was escorted to the sports hall of the school where a number of stands talked about how Sami language and its use in everyday life. The visit to the gym was completed with a rap called “Rápmi Kárášjohkii”, which is about all what is good about Karasjok.

The Sami language is an ancient language group that spreads across Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. It is stated that between 20,000 and 30,000 speak one or more of the different Sami languages. The number of Sami people is estimated to be around 100,000 people. 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”.

King Harald upon arrival in Karasjok. Photo: Guri Varpe / The Royal Court.

His Majesty also handed out the brand new “Language Prize” on behalf of the Sami Parliament. This is done as a part of the annual “Sami language week”. The aim of this is to raise the status of the Sami languages and to increase knowledge of Sami languages ​​and culture throughout the Kingdom of Norway. King Harald was accompanied by Sami President Aili Keskitalo.

The language prize is a completely new prize initiated by the Sami Parliament. The aim is to honour actors, businesses or associations that contribute to making Sami languages ​​visible locally and nationally. Ánne Márjá Guttorm Graven became history’s first recipient of the award, which she received for the Snapchat account Snaepmie. Mrs Snaepmie has made Sami visible on social media.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.