Who is Sami and who is not? This is a question that a lot of people are concerned about at he moment. The later years there are so many people who have just discovered that they are Sami, both in Scandinavia and aborad. If you are curious about it, it could be a good idea to take a DNA test to see what comes up. It could be good to take a DNA test if you know you are Sami also. It has come to our attention that it is important for indigenous people to take DNA tests, to find out more about where we derive from. But we dont know how true that is….
But back to the question. As you can read here, being Sami is not ONE thing. Most Sami question has many answers, and so has this question.
The answer will depend on who you ask.
ARE YOU SAMI OR DAŽA?
If you want to register officially in the census as Sami you will do this to the Sami Parliament in the state you live in. They will let you register if the Sami language has been used in your home, or if your parents, grandparent, or grangrandparents have used the Sami language home. If you are the child of someone who is, or has been in the census you will also be accepted.
So if you want the answer of the Sami Parliament if you are Sami or not, then it is all about the language. That would exclude all the Samis that have suffered from the colonisation, and know little of their Sami background, and also those who live in USA or Canada who are just discovering that they are descendants of the Samis who went overseas to help with reindeer herding in the 1850…
But, The Sami Parliament is a bureaucratic institution, ruled by the colonists governments, so we dont know how much we can trust their way of portraying things, and how they present things, unfortunately. Many argue that the Sami Parliament is not built around the Sami values and does not defend Sami issues in a satisfying manner, but simply is the servant to the colonists politics.
The following way of deciding who is Sami, is a way we feel falls more natural for the Sami worldview:
If anyone of your closest relatives are Sami, then you are Sami too.
There are surprisingly many people who say «My dad was Sami», or «my grandmother was Sami», or «my aunt was Sami, but my mum was not». But it does not occur to them that they themselves are Sami if someone close in your family is. This is due to factors of colonisation, and lack of learning about Sami ways in everyday life.
But if anyone in your closest family is Sami, then you are definitely Sami too! It is called Sami blood/genes.
Sometimes someone with no Sami «genes» can be more Sami than many other Sami people in how they live their lives. This happens typically if you love the lifestyle of the Sami people and you totally get the connection with nature, and respect and honor the values, culture and the way of thinking. There are many examples of this. Individuals like this will not get approved as Sami officially (by the Sami Parliament for example), but very likely in the Sami community.
There have been and still are alot of peeople who feel drawn to the Sami people, and really wished that they where Sami. Some of then are Sami by heart, like just described. Some of then become Sami by marriage. But if you dont have Sami ancestors, or not married to a Sami, there is not much else to do then be Sami by heart.
If you marry a Sami man/woman then you are considered to be Sami, but usually not right away… You will get accepted when you have proven that you have a lot of understanding of Sami culture. It is not always easy to get accepted. Not more than 15 years ago it was not considered favorable to marry a «daža», but now it has become more and more common, so it is more and more accepted.
DAŽA = non-sámi. It is a word used for anything non-sami. Often it has a negative vibe, but it is also used as a mere statement of something not being Sami.
Dažaiduvvon is a word of someone who is a Sami, but has moved away from the Sami worldview, values and lifestyle. Unfortunately this is not uncommon nowadays, but then again, we Samis in general have become more and more like our colonists in always every sense.
What daža cannot do:
-Daža cannot wear gakti (the sami clothing) because the clothing is not like western clothing where you show your taste. It is your identity. It shows where you come from, your wealth, and it can show your family, and if you are married or not. If you are not Sami, then it is unnatural and illogical, – even a lie to wear gákti, because you will be lying about where you come from. If you marry a Sami you will get the gákti from the same village as your spouse. (more about this in a later post).
-Daža cannot own reindeer (by law). (Not even all Sami people can)
Please comment below if you have any questions, or other comments. Who do you think is Sami, and who is daža?