Eastern Saami people
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Sisällysluettelo: Demografia, etnisiteetti ja fyysinen antropologia
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Eastern Saami people
Eastern Saami people is a common term for the Inari, Skolt, Akkala, Kildin and Ter Saami. Their language (Inari, Skolt, Akkala, Kildin and Ter Saami) has been the most important criterion for this division. They have traditionally lived on the Kola peninsula and its adjacent mainland area. Up until the 17th century the Saami settlements were found where Karelia now is. Because the majority of the eastern Saami areas historically belonged to Russia, the Saami of that region were called Russian Saami right down to the beginning of the 20th century. In the beginning of the 19th century the new state borders drawn between Russia, Sweden-Finland and Denmark-Norway split the eastern Saami into territories of different states. The most western Skolt Saami became Norwegian citizens in the 1820s. The majority of the Skolt Saami population became Finnish citizens in the period 1917-1940. The rest of the Skolt Saami as well as the other eastern Saami remain citizens of Russia/the Soviet Union/Russian Federation. An amount of the Sami in Russia nowadays is about 1900 people, in Finland about 400-500, and in Norway about 30.
The terms Inari, Kildin, Ter and Akkala are based on geographical names, whereas Skolt Saami was coined by representatives of the majority culture and has pejorative connotation. The term Akkala (Aˊkkel) derives from a Finnish word akka 'woman' and is an established term in Saami Studies both in Finnish and English; in Russian it is customary to use the terms Babinsk ('Akkala') or babinskije saamy ('Akkala Saami') derived from a Russian word baba 'woman'. Although the Saami of the Kola peninsula and the near-by mainland are conscious of the different names for each other's groups, eastern Saami is a common name that they use for themselves, thus expressing their affinity.
In contrast to the Inari Saami and other Saami in the west, the eastern Saami have been Orthodox Christians. Missionary activity started first in the southern parts of the eastern Saami area; it reached the northern coasts of the Kola Peninsula at the close of the 15th century. Among the inland Saami the Orthodox Church gained ground only in the 18th century. The influence of the Orthodoxy has been considerable on the Skolt Saami compared to other eastern Saami. The church still means a great deal to the Skolt Saami in Finland and Norway as a preserver of their culture. The Saami in the Soviet Union were separated from their Orthodox faith by way of the state's atheistic policy over many decades.
Eastern Sami communities (sijdds): The whole Saami population was originally divided into social entities (siida) whose areas of livelihood were strictly defined.
[kartta (pitää skannata Acta Borealiasta 2000:2, 8) ja lisätä seuraava selitys: The map: the old eastern Saami sijdds made by Karl Nickul and the Saami names in the local Saami dialects, as well as the Russian, Finnish and sometimes Norwegian counterparts of the village names.].
In Russian ethnographic literature the term pogost has been used to mean a Saami village. Pogost actually refers to a parish congregation, a permanent settlement situated near the church. The term came to the Kola peninsula at the turn of the 15th century together with the Russian migrants and the Russian Church, and was adapted to mean a permanent Saami winter village as well as the whole sijdd society living there during the winter period.
According to the needs of their way of living, the Saami lived at different places at various times of the year. Each sijdd had a common winter settlement (Kld: taa'llv syjjt 'winter village'). The winter village functioned as a social center, and usually the whole Saami sijdd society received its name from the name of its winter village. Once every 20th-30th year the Saami could shift their "permanent" common winter or summer villages to other places where were more lichen for the reindeer and more firewood. In the spring the Saami moved away from their winter settlement place to their private family areas where they lived until autumn. The sijdds which extended to the coast had also some common summer villages (Kld: kiess syjjt 'summer village'). The Saami families that belonged to the inland sijdds possessed private summer and autumn settlement places. Some families had also their spring settlements; in some occasions these were identical with the autumn ones. According to the time of the year the Saami practised either hunting or fishing on their temporary places.
There were strict borders between the villages, which were seldom marked in the terrain. One was not allowed to roam the area of a neighbouring sijdd, not even when hunting wild reindeer, if no special agreement existed between the neighbouring sijdds. All issues that were important to the villagers, e.g. questions about the use of hunting and fishing rights, were for the village council (siida ? siidačoahkkin) to settle. Some neighbouring sijdds had so-called kueiˊtmeerjânnam (Sk) 'common- land for two sijdds' as a result of close neighbourhood, marriage and common economic interests.
The most important Saami ways of subsistence has been fishing and hunting, that is, depending on the ecological conditions of each society, either for wild reindeer or for sea animals. Hunting for wild reindeer was practised by eastern Saami right to the start of the 20th century. Reindeer husbandry became an established way of living among the eastern Saami from about the 17th century. The reindeer husbandry of eastern Saami was mainly a small-scale husbandry with only a few reindeers.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the sijdd system started changing under the influence of the state policies and economic development of the area. The sijdd council lost its power in due course. In the 19th century many Saami families had already gradually ceased to practise their semi-nomadic reindeer herding way of life and instead settled permanently in their traditional areas. During the 20th century, the great majority of the eastern Saami were forced to leave their traditional areas of habitation.
As early as in the beginning of the 11th century the first Novgorod settlers turned up on the northern shores of the White Sea. The newcomers gradually started to extend their business trips farther and farther into the the Kola peninsula. From the beginning of the 13th century the Kola area, which was called Tre (Ter?) by Russians, administratively belonged to Novgorod as a tax-paying area. Because the borders between Russia, Denmark-Norway and Sweden-Finland were not at that time clear enough, some of the eastern Saami groupings had to pay taxes to two and even three states.
Before the 19th century eastern Saami could freely cross national borders. The first border was officially drawn in 1809, when Sweden lost Finland to Russia. In 1826 Norway and Russia divided between themselves the areas of the Skolt Saami sijdds, which extended down to the coast. Norway received a part of the sijdds of Paaččjokk (Paatsjoki) and Peäccam (Petsmo), as well as whole Njauddâm (Näätämö) sijdd. The freedom of movement enjoyed by the local Saami was drastically restricted.
In 1852 the national borders between Norway and Russia-Finland were closed. The pasturelands of many reindeer owning Norwegian Saami fell on the Swedish and Finnish side of the national border. By then the reindeer Saami started to utilize the coastal areas formerly used by the Skolt Saami. This invasion spelled the end to local Skolt Saami reindeer husbandry.
In the 1880s one group of the Komi reindeer herders living by the river Izhma, part of the water system of Pechora-river, came to the Kola peninsula in search for new pasturelands because they fled a reindeer plague that had caused great losses. On arriving to the Kola peninsula they exploited a considerable part of Saami pastureland. The Komis had an intensive way of reindeer husbandry, which caused changes both to the Saami's traditional reindeer husbandry and ecology of the peninsula.
After Finland became an independent country in 1917, a number of the Saami who were living near to the border between Finland and Russia, moved to Finland since their family lands were on Finnish side of the border. The border between Soviet Russia and Finland was drawn in 1920 (Tartu Peace Treaty). Those families, whose family lands ended up on the west side of the new border, came to Finland whereas those other families remained to be citizens of the Soviet Russia. The border severed the bonds of relationship, that the Saami had with their neighbouring sijdds in the east.
The Peäccam area, which was surrendered to Finland through the Tartu Piece Treaty, was returned to the Soviet Union in 1944. According to the Paris Piece Treaty (1947) the Saami of the border region immigrated to Finland. The Saami from the sijdds of Paaččjokk and Peäccam were moved from one place to another in 1947-52, until they settled on the southern shore of the Aanar (Inari) lake, in the area of Njeäˊl'lem (Nellim). The Saami from Suõˊnn'jel (Suonikylä) were settled north of the Aanar lake in the area of Sevettijärvi and on the waterways of Njauddâm (Näätämö) river.
The Russian revolution of 1917 and Soviet reforms of the 1920's influenced a way of life, employment and social structure of the Sami. Traditions that had lasted for hundreds of years disintegrated completely when private reindeer husbandry was eliminated through collectivization. In accordance with the new morality of communism, total collectivism came to the fore, which practically negated all private interests.
In connection with the social renewal and the establishing of kolkhozes in the 1920s-30s, steps were taken to unite Saami villages that comprised only a few families to make up bigger and permanent habitation centres. Church activities were then stopped and a systematic public education was organized. In the last part of the 1930s the authorities of the Soviet Union began the political persecution of educated and resourceful Saami and their descendants. In the 1950s-60s the Saami of the inner parts of the Kola Peninsula were uprooted from their traditional habitation areas and forced to live in one centre Luujaavv'r (Lovozero).
Economical and assimilation policy of the states, Christian missionary work, position of the eastern Saami as a multi-level minority, influence of the majority cultures and languages, forced transferings from the traditional areas of habitation, changes in the traditional way of life slowed down the development of the eastern Saami culture and languages, and had quite a negative influence on the development of the national identity of the eastern Saami.
In the 1980s the eastern Saami culture began reviving little by little. Orthographies for literary use of both Skolt and Kildin Saami were made, and there have been published dictionaries and textbooks. The Saami language became a subject in some schools in Russia and Finland. From 1980 onwards it became possible for the eastern Saami to get into contact with Saami living outside Russia. At the start of the 1990s the Saami began to work together across the state-borders (Saamiráddi). The use of the Saami languages became fairly wide-spread. The eastern Saami families started to get into contact again with their relatives on the other side of the border.
Koltat, karjalaiset ja setukaiset: Pienet kansat maailmojen rajoilla. (Snellman-Instituutti A-Sarja 19/ 1995). Hki; Nickul, K. (1970) Saamelaiset kansana ja kansalaisina. Hki; Niemi, E. (1994) Østsamene ressursutnyttelse og rettigheter. In Bruk av land og vann I Finnmark I historisk perspektiv: Bakgrunnsmateriale for Samerettsutvalget. (NOU 1994:21). Oslo, 299-350; Sergejeva, J. (2000) The Eastern Sámi: A short account of their history and identity. Acta Boralia 2000:2, 5 37; Tanner, V. (1929). Antropogeografiska studier inom Petsamo-området: I. Skolt-Lapparna. (Fennia 49: 4). Helsingfors.
Table of contents: Demography, ethnicity and physical anthropology
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