Skolt Sámi Heritage House in Sevettijärvi

Skolt Sámi Heritage House in Sevettijärvi / Copyright
The Skolt Sámi Heritage House is small museum and exhibition ground in the village of Sevettijärvi in northeastern Lapland. The heritage house showcases the distinct culture and traditions of the Skolt Sámi, or Skolts, and story of those relocated to the Sevettijärvi-Näätämö area during the Winter War. The grounds are also home to the various types of cottages and food storage rooms typically used by Skolts in the past.

The Skolt Sámi originally inhabited the Kola peninsula and the borderland areas between present-day Finland, Russia and Norway. However, at the end of the Finnish Civil War in 1920, the Treaty of Tartu split this area in two, bringing Petsamo and western portions under the territory of Finland and the eastern parts belonging to Russia. The division subsequently put strain during the following years on the seasonal movements of the Skolts whose existence depended on hunting, fishing and reindeer herding. After the Winter War in Lapland, Petsamo and other portions of northern Finland were ceded to Russia and consequently Skolts living in these areas were evacuated to Finland, as many young Skolt men had fought with the Finnish against the Russians.

Unlike other Sami, Skolts differ in that they converted to Orthodox Christianity in the 16th century and are somewhat of a "minority within a minority" amongst the indigenous Sami in northern Fennoscandia, with around only 1,200 ethnic Skolts remaining in the area. Likewise, the Skolt Sami have their own dialect of which there are roughly only 400 speakers still today in Finland.

The heritage house is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the Skolt Sámi, and luckily it also happens to be FREE - there is no entrance fee.

As mentioned, it's located in the village of Sevettijärvi which is on Road 971 that runs between the E75 in northern Lapland (just above Inari) and the E6 leading to Kirkenes in northern Norway.