Opening of Sámi Cultural Centre provides a focus for Sámi culture

The building of a Sámi Cultural Centre in Finnish Lapland has been on the political agenda since the 1970s. After years of debate, the centre finally opened in 2012.

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The new Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos provides a focus for Sámi culture in Finnish Lapland. The new Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos provides a focus for Sámi culture in Finnish Lapland.

Among other functions, the new Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos will provide a permanent home for the Sámi Parliament of Finland, which, until now, has met in a variety of buildings. The new centre also hosts the Parliament’s secretariat as well facilities for the hosting of concerts, theatrical performances, films, meetings, conferences, exhibitions and fairs.

The new EUR 14.9 million multi-functional building also houses the Sámi Education Institute, a library and archive dedicated to Sámi culture, the Lapland Regional State Administrative Agency and SámiSoster ry, the Sámi Association for Health and Social Issues, and Anarâškielâ servi, the Inari Sámi Language Association.  In addition there is a handicraft shop and a restaurant. The centre’s main hall has capacity for 430 people.

The main purpose of the centre is to help preserve, promote and develop Sámi culture, language and business activities as well as to manage Sámi cultural self-government and improve the living conditions of the Sámi indigenous people. The new centre will be instrumental in communicating information about the Sámi people to the outside world, and, it is hoped, will attract national and international interest for its multicultural goals.

Bringing Sámi people from different regions together

The centre was built on the banks of the river Juutuanjoki in the Sámi village of Inari, which is considered a major centre for the Sámi people in Finland. Although the main purpose of the centre is to promote Sámi culture and to bring Sámi people from different regions together, it is also expected that other people in Lapland, language students, culture operators, tourists, event visitors and organisers will also benefit from the facility.

A spokesperson for the centre said it was hoped that it will become a symbol of the lively and developing Sámi culture and cultural autonomy, and that it would improve the self-esteem of the Sámi people and strengthen their identity. 

The construction phase of the cultural centre created around 70 jobs and 10 new jobs have been created since the opening of the building. About 50 people currently work in the centre. A name-giving competition for the centre increased awareness of the project and helped to increase community involvement and interest in the project.

Total and EU funding

The “Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos” project had a total eligible budget of EUR 4 377 818, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 2 200 000 through the 'Northern Finland' Operational Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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