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HELSINKI – The indigenous people of Europe's Arctic north are celebrating their national day this week with hundreds of events across Nordic lands.
Monday's start to weeklong festivities marks the centenary of the Sami people's first congress in Trondheim, Norway, in 1917. Seventy-five years later, the Sami declared Feb. 6 their national day.
The Sami, previously known as Lapps, today inhabit Lapland stretching from northern parts of Norway through Sweden and Finland to Russia. They once faced oppression of their culture, including bans on use of their native tongue.
Today the nomadic people live mostly modern lifestyles. Some still tend reindeer, wear their traditionally bright-colored national dress and perform joik songs. The songs, involving a mixture of chanting and poetry, are being recited in events across northern Scandinavia and Finland this week.