The Sami People
Reindeer husbandry has been, and is, an important aspect of Sami culture. During the years of forced assimilation, the areas in which reindeer herding was an important livelihood were among the few where the Sami culture and language survived.
Today, in Norway, reindeer husbandry is legally protected as an exclusive Sami livelihood, such that only persons of Sami descent with a linkage to a reindeer herding family can own, and hence make a living off, reindeer. Presently, about 2,800 people are engaged in reindeer herding in Norway.
However, the best known Sami livelihood is reindeer herding - which about 10% of the Sami are connected with and 2,800 actively involved with full-time. For traditional, cultural, and political reasons, reindeer herding is legally reserved only for Sami people in certain regions of the Nordic countries.
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami are the indigenous people of northern Europe inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia but also in the border area between south and middle Sweden. Their ancestral lands span an area the size of Sweden in the Nordic countries. The Sami people are among the largest indigenous ethnic groups in Europe.