Foto: Leif Milling
Foto: Leif Milling

Who is a Sami?

The Sami Parliament Act contains a definition of what a Sami is. In order to join the electoral register for the Sami Parliament, the Act states that you must consider yourself to be a Sami and the Sami language must be or have been the language in your home, or in either your parents' or grandparents' home.

Before each election to the Sami Parliament, a Sami electoral register is drawn up. The entitlement to be included in the electoral register, and therefore to have voting rights, is held by people who perceive themselves to be Sami and have, or have had, Sami as the language in the home. This entitlement is also available to individuals whose parents or grandparents have or have had Sami as their language in the home, or if you have a parent who is included on the electoral register.

The Sami Parliament Act includes provisions about voting rights and the Sami electoral register.

Sami Parliament Act 1992:1433
Section 1. Initial provisions
§ 2. In this Act, a Sami refers to an individual who considers him/herself to be a Sami and
1. can demonstrate a probability that he/she has or has had Sami as the language in the home, or
2. can demonstrate a probability that one of his/her parents or grandparents has or has had Sami as the language in the home, or
3. has a parent who is or has been included on the electoral register for the Sami Parliament, without this subsequently being decided otherwise by the county administrative board.

8 322 individuals were registered for the election to the Sami parliament in May, 2013. You have to be 18 years old in order to register.

Identity
What components are included when you create your identity? It is a complex question. It is partly a matter of your origin, your up-bringing, and your own choice. If you have Sami ancestors but you don't consider yourself a Sami - then you are not a Sami. On the other hand you can also have double identities: You can be both Sami and Swedish and move between the different cultural contexts.

The first laws expressed that only those who had reindeer and pursued reindeer herding, were real Sami. Big groups of Sami were excluded and were not defined as Sami from the State's perspective. It was not allowed to have both reindeer and cows for example. After the establishment of the Sami parliament, the Sami language is an identity marker according to the Sami Parliament Act.

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