Sami camps in three different variants

A viste (camp) is the name given to a place where Sami families set up camp when they were moving from one place to another. Plenty of fuel and a spring with fresh water close by were essential.

Here you can see three Sami camps with tents, storage huts and a drying stand. They are replicas of camps in the inland and mountain areas of Västerbotten – those parts of the county that have been characterised by the Sami culture for a long time.

Many villages and communities have arisen out of the camp areas. Gammlia’s Sami camps show how Sami constructed buildings and lived up until the 20th century: close to nature, ingeniously and practically!

The reindeer, a link between millennia
In times long gone reindeer were hunted. For the last few centuries they have been used as domestic animals. Reindeer have among things given milk, cheese, meat, fur, hide, clothes and craft materials and have also been used as draught animals and beasts of burden. Today they are mainly kept for their meat.

The reindeer’s most important food is lichens, which are easy to digest and assimilate. During the summer this meagre diet is augmented with grass, herbs, leaves and mushrooms. The Mountain Samis’ reindeer have their summer grazing pasture in the high mountains above the tree line. Winter pasture is found in the forests in the inland and coastal areas. This means long treks for both reindeer and their herdsmen. About a quarter of all Sami in Sweden are reindeer herders.

Eight seasons
The reindeer herding year is divided into eight seasons. The changes of the seasons and the reindeers’ needs decide what is to be done and when in the vast county of Västerbotten.

  • Spring-winter, March-April move to the low mountains
  • Spring, May calving
  • Spring-summer, June grazing, repairs, mountain fishing
  • Summer, July move to high mountains, calf-branding, sorting
  • Summer-autumn, August-September move to low mountains, grazing, berry-picking, fishing
  • Autumn, September-October reindeer bulls are slaughtered, hunting, fishing
  • Autumn-winter, November move to winter grazing pasture closer to the coast
  • Winter, December-March the reindeer are moved between different grazing areas in the forests

Forest Sami, Southern Sami and Northern Sami
Gammlia’s Sami camps represent three different areas and cultures.

The Forest Sami live and work in the inland forests all year round. They do not move to the mountains with their reindeer during the summer, which mountain-dwelling Sami, like the Northern Sami and the Southern Sami do. Forest Sami have existed from Ångermanland and north from there.

Today there is only one Forest Sami village in the county of Västerbotten. Northern Sami reindeer-herding families were forcibly moved south by the Government in the 1930s. That is why there are Northern Sami in Västerbotten. The Southern Sami area stretches from here down to the county of Dalarna.

Archaeologists and ethnologist hold guided tours at the camps, and you can gather around the fire during events and other activities. The camps have wardens during the summer season, so visitors can taste Sámi specialities, drink boiled coffee, throw lassos and learn more about Sámi culture.

Sydsamiska vistet

The south sámi camp