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In Norway Sami and Sami themes are being discussed more often now than for a long time. Still, few people know that we have a centuries-long Sami tradition in East Telemark and that we have a wild reindeer tribe here at Notodden, up on Blefjell. In addition, many Sami from northern Norway came to Notodden after the war.


Sami have lived in the region for over 1,000 years and have been an important part of history, as Harald Hårfagre's favorite wife, the beautiful Sami woman Snøfrid, tells us.


The Sami were also important in society after the Viking Age. In 1259, King Håkon Håkonsson was to marry off his daughter Kristin to the Spanish prince Philip of Castile. Håkon invited the most important men in the areas around the king's city, Tønsberg, to a council. Sturla writes about this event that "the men of the Sami districts were also invited".

In more modern times, recent research has shown that the legendary skier Sondre Norheim from Morgedal, where the Olympic flame was lit for the Winter Olympics in Oslo 1952, was inspired by the Sami reindeer herding people up on Haukelifjell when he invented wicker binding in the mid-19th century.


After several hundred years of oppression, more and more Norwegians with a Sami background have learned more about their own culture and history. At the same time, we experience that incitement, hatred and pressure to stigmatize are spreading online and on social media, which weakens freedom of expression and leaves less room for free speech in society. This has meant that many do not dare to tell about their family and their own Sami background, because it is perceived as shameful.

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The Telemark saemien festival will contribute to information and show the culture of the Sami in Telemark in a positive and open way.

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