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  • Misty Gillard

Team Sapmi

Team Sápmi promotes culture through sports - Misty Gilland 

The Sámi celebrate sports as part of culture; witness their events of reindeer racing, lasso kasting, and cross country skiing. The purpose of the Sámi Sports Association, Sámi Valáštallan Lihttu, is “to promote Sámi traditions, cultural interaction, and friendship through sport.”  

Sápmi is the name for the traditional territory in which the Sámi people live.  Sápmi land spreads across the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Within that area are 50,000 to 100,000 Sámi people, speaking as many as nine distinct dialects. The Sámi lived on the land long before European national boundaries were established, and are governed by their own elected parliaments that act nationally and across national borders. They came together in 2000 to form a Sámi Parliamentary Council which serves as a joint council for the people.

Team Sápmi is participating in two sports at the Arctic Winter Games 2024: cross country ski and futsal. The Sápmi ski team spent a year preparing for the 2024 Arctic Winter Games, choosing eighteen skiers and nineteen futsal players. Most of the skiers were selected based on results from the Sámi Skiing Championships held in Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino) Norway.  Sámi youth have come to compete, but also to strengthen the unity of and pride in the Sámi culture and to network with other northern cultures.

Be sure to ask the players and fans about their heritage and homeland. Just do not ask about how many reindeer they may own - It is considered very rude. Good Luck Team Sápmi!

Information in this article was sourced from the following websites:

Aslak. (2023, November 28). AWG skiløpere er utpekt. SVL.

Cleaver, K. (2023, February 28). The fast and furious world of reindeer racing. The Spectator.

CONIFA. (2022, January 21). SAPMI | CONIFA.

IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs. (2023, March 24). Sápmi - IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.

SVL. (2023, March 24). Arctic Winter Games - SVL.

SVL. (n.d.). Sámi Valástallan Lihttu Archives - SVL.


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