Tromsø in Northern Norway Will Get a Long-Awaited Sami House

The establishment of a Sámi house in the city of Tromsø, Northern Norway, has long been desired. Agreement is found and action finally being taken after cooperation agreements between the Sámi Parliament and Troms and Finnmark County and Tromsø municipality, respectively, were made last year. Here, one of the agreements is signed by Tromsø Mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen (Labor) and the then Sámi Parliament President Aili Keskitalo (NSR). (Photo: Åse M. P. Pulk/Sámediggi)

After three decades in the idea stage, a Sámi house is finally being established in Tromsø, Northern Norway. The municipality, county, and the Sámi parliament will form a joint-stock company that will put it all into practice.

The realization of a Sámi house (Sámi Viessu) is finally in the works in Tromsø (Romssa), Northern Norway, writes the municipality in a press release on Monday.

Tromsø's Mayor Gunnar Wilhelmsen (Labor), Troms and Finnmark's Chair of the County Government Kristina Tobergsen (Labor), and the Sámi Parliament President Silje Karine Muotka (the Norwegian Sàmi Association/NSR) are fronting a proposal of forming a joint-stock company which will found such a house.

More specifically, it is proposed that the company – called Romssa Sámi Viessu/Sámi House Tromsø AS – will be owned by the municipality, the county, and the Sámi Parliament of Norway (Sámediggi), and have a capital of NOK 1 million.

The house will be a Sámi meeting place and contribute to creating and operating a public art and culture arena with a clear Sámi profile. Here, the Sámi language and culture can be experienced, developed, and passed on to future generations.

"This is a historical milestone for Tromsø municipality. A Sámi house is very important for the municipality's Sámi as well as Norwegian inhabitants and domestic and foreign visitors. This will be a meeting place, a hub of competence, and an energy field for the Sámi culture, competence, and power," says Mayor Wilhelmsen.

"And as the Arctic capital, Tromsø must of course have a Sámi house," he continues and points out that this will have great significance beyond the municipality.

We look forward to the day the Sámi inhabitants of Tromsø can enter the Sámi house.

Sámi Parliament President Silje Karine Muotka (NSR)

Soon there

The proposal is said to be considered in the municipal council, the county council, and the Samì Parliament these days.

Sametingspresident Silje Karine Muotka (NSR). (Foto: Åse M. P. Pulk/Sámediggi)

Sàmi Parliament President Silje Karine Muotka, who represents the Norwegian Sàmi Association (NSR) (Photo: Åse M. P. Pulk/Sámediggi)

After the expected approval, the three owners will appoint a board of six members. The board will then be responsible for hiring a manager, as well as finding suitable premises for the house.

Profits of the company will be used for activities that correspond to the purpose of the house and the associated company.

"We look forward to the day the Sámi inhabitants of Tromsø can enter the Sámi house, which they have waited for for a long, long time," says the Sàmi Parliament President Muotka.

"The process is soon to be concluded because of good cooperation with the county and the municipality and we look forward to the continued cooperation where all parties contribute to making the Sàmi house an important meeting place in Tromsø."

"Now that the agreement is in place, perhaps the most important remains: filling the house with content which will benefit the entire Sàmi population, both today and in generations to come," she adds.

This is a need in Northern Norway's largest city.

Chair of the County Government of Troms and Finnmark, Kristina Torbergsen (Labor)

Arose from cooperation agreements

Last year, the Sàmi Parliament entered into cooperation agreements with Troms and Finnmark county and Tromsø municipality in May and June respectively. These have served as a direct springboard for a Sàmi house finally beginning to take form in this large city in Sàpmi (the historical settlement area of the Sàmi). 

Tromsø is the municipality with the most inhabitants registered in the Sàmi Parliament's electoral roll and constitutes a central Sàmi city of culture and knowledge with many students. A Sàmi house was established in Oslo, Norway's capital, in 2003.

"Troms and Finnmark county wish to be part of facilitating Sàmi meeting places and this is a need in Northern Norway's largest city. It is important that we protect and pass on the Sàmi language, culture, and ways of living, says the Chair of the County Government, Torbergsen, and continues: 

"The establishment of a Sàmi house in Tromsø is a concrete measure in the cooperation agreement with the Sàmi parliament which we now bring life to together and I want to say thank you to the Sàmi Parliament Council and the mayor for the good cooperation. This makes me very happy and I look forward to the continuation."

Chair of the County Government of Troms and Finnmark, Kristina Torbergsen (Labor).


This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.