The "Skolt Sámi culture across borders" project is a cooperation between three countries, Finland, Norway and Russia, within the programme "Unbounded Development", Sápmi. The overall aim is to contribute to a strengthening and revitalisation of Skolt Sámi culture, language and identity.
The project is being carried out by the Sámi Education Institute in Inari, Finland. The Norwegian project partner is the East Sámi museum in Neiden which also has responsibility for the Russian project part. The project offices are located in Sevettijärvi (Finland), Neiden (Norway) and Murmansk (Russia).
The project is scheduled to last for 2,5 years, running from 1.4.2010 to 31.12.2012.
It is financed by the INTERREG IV A Nord- Sápmi programme, an initative of The European Regional Development Fund. The Norwegian project part also receives a subsidy from the Norwegian Barents secretary and the Norwegian Ministry of Government of Administration, Reform and Church affairs. The Finnish project part also receives a subsidy from the Regional council of Lapland.
The main target group is the Skolt Sámi community in Finland, Norway and Russia. The majority of the Skolt Sámi community is living in the areas of Sevettijärvi, Nellim and Keväjärvi. In Russia Skolt Sámi live south of Murmansk in the towns Verkhne-Tulomsk, Tuloma, Loparskaja, Murmanshi, Olenogorsk and Montsegorsk. Central Skolt Sámi areas in Norway are Neiden, Jarfjord and Pasvik. The local communities of Inari municipality, Sør-Varanger municipality and Murmansk oblast will also benefit from the project work.
Other target groups are local associations and organizations: in Finland the Skolt Sámi village meeting, Skolt Sámi culture foundation and Saa´mi Nue´tt, the Giellagas-institute at Oulu University, the Finnish Sámi parliament and the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland (KOTUS). Other co-operation partners in Norway are Sámi Allaskuvla (Kautokeino) and Duodji workshop in Bugøyfjord.
A further important target group are the Skolt Sámi living in urban area and places beyond the bounds of the Skolt Sámi area.
The project's aim is to contribute to the strengthening and development of Skolt Sámi culture, language and identity with a cross-border perspective in Finland, Norway and Russia. It is also intended to enhance recognition and knowledge of the Skolt Sámi culture nationally and internationally.
To reach the aim steps are being taken to:
1) Strengthen co-operation and establish a cross-border network with several partners on different levels.
Trilateral events and courses will be the means to bring together the Skolt Sámi from Finland, Norway and Russia .Participation at cultural events will be supported. The needs and expectations of the Skolt Sámi, particularly in Russia and beyond the bounds of the Skolt Sámi area, are being identified.
2) Revitalise the Skolt Sámi language.
This will have a central position. Educational materials for languages courses will be produced. Possibilities for language training will be provided e.g. total language immersion and family language camps and courses (with both face-to-face and virtual contact). In addition there will be a focus on recruitment of new language teachers and translators. External financing will be applied for in order to start long-term language projects. An international seminar for Skolt Sámi language and culture will be arranged in 2012.
3) Strengthen culture, identity and traditional knowledge.
A cross-border exchange of handicraft expertise and traditional knowledge will lead to a stronger cultural awareness and self consciousness. Among the means adopted there will be courses in traditional handicraft and journeys to former Skolt Sámi areas and settlements as well as common cultural events. Handicraft courses are particularly important for the transfer of traditional knowledge.
4) Promote communication.
A home page in 5 languages (Skolt Sámi, English, Finnish, Norwegian, and Russian) will be established to disseminate information about the Skolt Sámi culture nationally and internationally. This web page will also provide an overview of project activities. A web forum will be created so that Skolt Sámi living beyond the target area can easily establish contact and obtain information. In addition information material about the project will be produced.
After the project's completion in 2012 the Skolt Sámi culture and situation in the three countries will have been researched and compared, generating knowledge of strengths and weaknesses and possibilities for development in each country.
This is how we expect the situation to look in 2013 onwards.
In each country there will exist a functioning networking which also works across borders. Participants from each country will be present at common international cultural events which will be arranged. The Skolt Sámi community will have been strengthened by co-operation with other local entities. There are vibrant youth and family activities as well as annual national and international events. Adults are involved in local activities and contribute to the transfer of cultural knowledge to the younger generation. Skolt Sámi people living beyond the bounds of the target area are active and involved in cultural events.
The Skolt Sámi language will have been revived. Language courses are offered on several levels, in both face-to-face teaching and virtual courses. Special language courses for professionals are organized. Local entities arrange courses to enhance competence in writing and reading Skolt Sámi. In co-operation with local institutions educational material is published. Applications for additional external subsidy and long-term language projects are submitted.
The Centres for Language immersion in Ivalo and Sevettijärvi have been developed. Several new teachers have been trained. An international language seminar has been conducted, another one is planned.
The Skolt Sámi identity and self awareness has been strengthened. Excursions to former settlements were arranged. New excursions are being planned. Several courses in traditional handicrafts have led to an enhancement of cultural knowledge. The number of active participants at courses has increased. Specialists have been trained in new methods and techniques which are communicated to the local communities. There is vibrant activity in handicrafts which continues due to the investments made by the project. The local community is engaged in handicraft courses and courses in traditional knowledge. The Skolt Sámi villages are more alive and attractive for returnees.
The international recognition of the Skolt Sámi culture has grown. Due to active public relations the situation of the Skolt Sámi culture is more known, even among public authorities. This leads to more support and subsidy in order to strengthen the Skolt Sámi culture. The Skolt Sámi people are more aware of their own situation and work actively for the preservation of their language and culture.
Information material is available in 5 languages and is distributed purposefully in each country. A temporary movable exhibition is available and can be used at seminars, conferences as well as at museums.
The co-operation within the network established during the project continues after its completion. There are annual cross-border meetings arranged and cultural events in all countries, subsidized by several national cultural foundations and entities. Activities for young people, adults and families continue due to the dedication and contribution of the local people. Application for additional financial support will be submitted.
Activities in language immersion (the "language bath") have evolved due to new investments and teaching material. Skolt Sámi language courses are easily available via the internet. Language courses are held on different levels and material can be obtained through downloading from the internet. Language training activity is proceeding at Sámi Education Institute in Inari. Applications are being submitted for additional subsidy for intensive courses for professionals. A stronger interest in Skolt Sámi language has been registered in Norway and Russia. Distance learning is being arranged. ( Internet, LearnLinc and other platforms).
In the longer term
The "Skolt Sámi culture across borders" project is building the foundations. The revitalization of the Skolt Sámi language and culture requires a structured long-term strategy, including international projects for the preservation and continuation of the culture. For that reason, applications for additional subsidy will be submitted.