Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The Sami People of Northern Sweden
This is going to be one of those educational posts for people who don't know much about Sweden. For those who already know or don't give a shit I apologize in advance. You have been warned.
Back in the Viking days when the Swedes first came to Sweden, the area was already inhabited by an indigenous people. These Sami people were nomadic people who followed the herds reindeer around, killing them for food, clothing, and shelter.
In the rest of the world these people are popularly known as Lapplanders, but in Scandinavia that's not PC and so they call them the Sami people. At first I thought the Swedes were calling them the "Salami" people and I had one of those Homer Simpson moments I occasionally get (mmm... Salami people).
But the Sami people are not a renegade crew of Italians who were sick of hot weather and Chianti. Their exact origin is unknown, but they have been living in the Northernmost part of Sweden for over 2,500 years. Had the Sami people been tall and blond like the Swedes they most likely would have been left alone. But alas, they are small and dark.
So the Swedes didn't just let them freewheel hippy around the North of Sweden chasing the reindeer in peace. Just like the Americans did later, they tried to convert to them Christianity, kill them, make them pay taxes, and all that good stuff.
Eventually they made peace. Why? Why not? The North of Sweden is just like the North of Canada. Not much up there but snow, moose, reindeer, and Sami people. Plenty of room for everyone.
How did the Sami people get from from Asia to Northern Europe? How can they have such a similar look, lifestyle and architecture with America Indians who lived so far away? Bering Strait I guess. Who knows.
The Sami people don't speak Swedish. They speak Sami, which is totally unique, although a lot of words are borrowed from Finno-Ugric languages like Finnish and Hungarian.
For more information about the Sami people of Northern Sweden see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami
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