University of Oulu

Kylli, Ritva 2017 Misjon og utdanning blant samer i 1800-tallets Finland. Norsk tidsskrift for misjonsvitenskap 71(2): 44-57

Misjon og utdanning blant samer i 1800-tallets Finland

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Author: Kylli, Ritva1
Organizations: 1[Oulu Universitetet]
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: nno
Published: Egede Institute, 2017
Publish Date: 2017-07-05


This article discusses the Lutheran state church’s educational mission to the Sámi in 19th century Finnish Lapland. An ethnic and linguistic minority group living in the Finnish borderlands, the Sámi have functioned as the ‘internal other’ for Finns. Eventually, they became targets of an education policy that sought to implement a form of civilizing mission. While legislation regulated Christian education of the Sámi in the 19th century, individual practices depended on the activities of individual clergymen involved. While some focused on making the Sámi literate with the help of reading primers, others thought civilization could be introduced by way of founding lending libraries. Yet another wanted to hire a former Finnish missionary who had previously worked in Namibia to teach the Sámi. In Lapland, the Finnish clergymen worked closely with Sámi teachers (catechists), who functioned as cultural brokers between Finnish and Sámi cultures.

The Finnish government adopted a new policy towards ethnic minorities in the 1840s. When it was discovered that Finnish was one of the language minorities in the large Russian Empire, the Finns began to treat the Sámi language and culture in the same way as they wanted Russia to treat Finnish language and culture. Therefore, during the latter half of the 19th century, Sámi parents were no longer obliged to teach Finnish to their children. In addition, those Utsjoki and Inari clergymen who learned to speak the “dialect” of the Sámi language in their parishes, were given better salaries. The status of the language reached new heights in the first years of the 20th century, when the bishop of the Kuopio Diocese J. R. Forsman, learned Sámi so he could preach to the Sámi in their own language during his visitation to Utsjoki in 1902. During this time, Sámi Christianity stood very strong, especially compared to the rest of Finland. In the Utsjoki parish, bishop Forsman was especially impressed with the Christian knowledge and skills of the young Sámi parishioners. The article compares the education in Finnish Lapland with the education of the Sámi in Sweden and Norway, and also with missionary education in some mission fields outside Europe.

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Series: Norsk tidsskrift for misjonsvitenskap
ISSN: 1504-6605
ISSN-E: 2464-1936
ISSN-L: 1504-6605
Volume: 71
Issue: 2
Pages: 44 - 57
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Copyright information: © The author and Norsk tidsskrift for misjonsvitenskap. Creative Commons license CC BY-ND.