Taking Care of the Ancestral Language

The Language Revitalisation of NonStatus Sámi in Finnish Sápmi

  • Erika Katjaana Sarivaara
    University of Lapland, Finland
  • Satu Uusiautti
    University of Lapland, Finland


Non-status Sámi are defined as a group of people who are of Sámi descent, but they do not have official Sámi status. The term ‘non-status’ means that they lack the official status of Sámi people because they do not fulfill the criteria of Sáminess, as defined by the Finnish law of the Sámi Parliament, and thus do not belong to the electoral register of the Sámi Parliament. Some of the Non-status Sámi have revitalised the Sámi language and started to use it actively; this was the target group of this study. In this study, ten Non-status Sámi’s narratives were obtained through interviews. The Sámi-speaking Non-status Sámi were divided into two types according to how they locate themselves in Sámi society: (1) conscious Non-status Sámi; and (2) integrative Non-Status Sámi. According to the findings, Sámi-speaking Non-status Sámi identities and locations within the Sámi society are diverse. The study contributes to the discussion of decolonisation a new perspective from Indigenous people who have consciously started to revitalise Indigenous language and culture. Furthermore, the study shows the multidimensional nature of Indigenous identity and sheds light on marginalities in Indigenous communities.

Published: 2013-01-01
Pages:1 to 16
Section: Articles
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How to Cite
Sarivaara, E. K., & Uusiautti, S. (2013). Taking Care of the Ancestral Language: The Language Revitalisation of NonStatus Sámi in Finnish Sápmi. International Journal of Critical Indigenous Studies, 6(1), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcis.v6i1.107