Arctic Indigenous Groups

Skolt Sami (red ), Kola Sami (blue), European Nenets (green), Yamal Nenets (gray)


Skolt Sami

9Skolt Sami Magdalena.JPG

Northern Finnish Lapland, Inari municipality, 700 Skolt Sami, villages of Sevettijärvi, Nellim and Keväjärvi, a few in Neiden (Norway), and Tuloma, Verkhnetulomsk, Jona villages in Northwesternmost Russia. Original territories were in the Petsämö region until WW II. When their territory had to be ceded back to the Soviet Union, most were resettled to Finland where they live now. Skolt Sámi language is spoken by approximately 350 speakers. Their earlier livelihood was based on reindeer herding, hunting, fishing and gathering. Nowadays only reindeer herding and fishing have retained some economic relevance. They are practiced in an extensive form in the two Skolt herding districts of Näätämö and Vätsäri in which they manage about 6500 reindeer.

Kola Sami


Murmansk Oblast, North West Russia. 2000 Sami, a third of whom live in Lovozero village. Language: mostly Kildin Saami, 67 000 reindeer, of which 7 000 are in private ownership. Most reindeer herding is done in the successors of state farms. Herding is done in work shifts of men out on the tundra, in loose herding. Reindeer are released for the summer after the closely monitored calving campaign, and rounded up in the fall before slaughtering. Fishing and hunting in spring and autumn are of equal importance. Sami on the Kola Peninsula live together with the Komi and Nenets, and their material culture, clothing, and religion are incorporated into this mixture. 


European Nenets


Nenets Autnomous Okrug, North West Russia, 6 400 Nenets people, of which around 1 500 live in the tundra. A nomadic and semi-nomadic life herding reindeer, fishing and hunting. Language: Nenets, spoken mostly by elders. They manage around 180 000 reindeer, the majority in collective farms, but increasingly in family based communities (obshina). Herding is done with close herd supervision for most of the year, including work 24 hours a day. Other than among full-time nomads, the rest of herding is done by village based men, for whom the tundra is a working place.

Yamal Nenets

10Yamal Nenets Padnana Lapsui B 1929.JPG

Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, east of Ural Mountains, 28 000 Nenets people, of which roughly 10 000 lead a nomadic way of live on the tundra herding reindeer, fishing and hunting. Language: Tundra Nenets, widely spoken among herders. They manage around 500 000 reindeer, the world’s largest number in one region, mostly in private ownership. Herding is done in close herd supervision for most of the year, including work 24 hours a day. Yamal-Nenets herding is considered the best preserved reindeer nomadism on our planet.