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Frontpage News 2009 Promoting Sami culture in the Czech Republic


Promoting Sami culture in the Czech Republic

6 Czech and Norwegian universities cooperate on teaching the Czech public about Sami language and culture. The project is supported by the Czech scholarship fund.

The Czech Scholarship fund of the EEA and Norway Grants support the "Multiethnic Norway: Sami Culture and Languages at Czech Universities" project, which is carried out in cooperation between the Masaryk University in Brno, the Charles University in Prague, the Palacky University in Olomouc, the University of Tromsø and the Sami University College in Karasjok. The Sami are a national minority in Norway, traditionally inhabiting the northernmost areas of the country. Their culture, language and traditional ways of life are distinctly separate from the rest of the Scandinavian peoples.

A Sami cultural evening was organised in Prague on 7 October by the partner universities in cooperation with the Norwegian Embassy, the Centre for Norwegian Literature Abroad and the Scandinavian House in Prague, with the aim of presenting Norway's cultural diversity through diverse artistic performances in Sami. More than 70 people, both academics and members of the general public attended the event, which was held at the Café Nordica.

Professor Harald Gaski of the University of Tromsø delievered a lecture on Sami literature and recited Sami poems, followed by a presentation of a new Czech book on Sami language, literature and society edited by Czech scholars. The book, bilingual in Czech and English, contains translations of Sami literature. The event also included the opening of a photo exhibition by the Czech artist Vojtěch Vlk featuring portraits and landscapes from Sápmi. The singer Lena Susanne Gaup (pictured above) performed traditional joiks throughout the evening, and the audience also had the opportunity to sample traditional Sami food and refreshments.

As part of the project, a 10-day intensive language course in northern Sami has been held for Czech students, and 3 Norwegian lecturers held several courses on Sami language and culture for students and researchers at Czech universities.

Both the courses and the cultural events have attracted considerable interest from Czech students and members of the general public, and institutional partnerships between Czech and Norwegian universities have been formed and will be further developed in the future. In addition, 2 books on Sami language, culture and literature have been published this autumn.

Sami culture and language is also the focus of an EEA and Norway Grants cooperation project carried out between 2 secondary schools in Norway and Slovakia.