Finland’s Saami protect their cultural symbols

saami-flagA problem has risen over the use of traditional Saami cultural symbols in the Finnish tourism industry. After a Saami Council meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Nordic indigenous group passed a resolution calling for a ban on improper or demeaning use of their symbols. They also want the Finnish government to require permits for any tourist organisation to use a Saami icon.

SIKUnews reported that a group of young Saami from all over the Nordic region held a demonstration in Rovaniemi on 30 October to protest the misuse of their traditional dress. As an example, the demonstrators claimed Saami dress was being used in Lapland by tourist guides to add colour to their tours. The Finnish tourist industry was also using Saami dress in their promotions and ads for tourism without consent.

In another example, the Saami Council made a plea to the local government to respect their cultural integrity after it was discovered a shopping mall in Rovaniemi was planning to use gender signs outside their restrooms featuring females and males dressed in Saami clothing.

The Saami Council is preparing a new approval system under which any Saami cultural symbol would have to be approved by the council on heraldry before it can be used by any outside group.