This is where different groups of Sámi from the region met with other groups as far away to the east and west, now known as Finland, Russia and Norway. They came together and carried out business among themselves and with traveling traders from the south. it was here products were traded and bought, such as hides and handicrafts, sugar and salt. This is an ancient tradition that is very alive today, when Jukkasjärvi is now a magnet attracting people from every corner of the world. The name Jukkasjärvi (côhkeras in Sámi) means, fittingly enough, “meeting place by the lake”. When visiting ICEHOTEL, be sure to not miss meeting the Sámi heritage.
The crackling fire in the middle of the kåta, a Sámi-style tipi, spreads cosy warmth as the flames cast spellbinding figures up the walls. a group of young Sámi sit around the hearth talking, in a blend of Swedish and Sámi. The warm yellow glow makes their skin glow. They are summing up their recent trip to their Sámi neighbors in Saarivuomo, where they were to divide up the herd and gather up their own reindeer. We are at Nutti Sámi Siida, right next to the Jukkasjärvi church. The company was established 13 years ago, with the aim of conveying the genuine.
Sámi culture to guests from near and far. The area has an open air museum that tells the story of Sámi history and traditions. There is also a large fenced pasture with reindeer. anders kärrstedt is the marketing manager at Nutti Sámi Siida, and with a sack full of reindeer lichens and a bit of calling, he entices the reindeer to come over to eat from our hands. “reindeer are a domestic animal. For us, every animal is an individual with its own personality and behavior. They are our closest and most important workmates. Without the reindeer, the Sámi would be nothing”, says anders. So it’s not a coincidence that reindeer are a central part of Nutti Sámi Siida’s operations. The experiences offered by the company almost always contain an activity where the reindeer play a central role.
“We offer experiences with true authenticity. all of our guides are active in reindeer husbandry and the Sámi culture. We want our guests to experience closeness to nature and origins. The entire time we are fully focused on safety and comfort. We take great care in seeing to that guests feel they are having a wonderful time, feel good about their meeting with the Sámi culture, even on expeditions far out into the wilderness”, says Anders. Nutti Sámi Siida conveniently offers some of their activities on site in Jukkasjärvi, such as reindeer driving on a short track together with a guiding of the open air museum on the Sámi culture. There is also a unique reindeer sled tour where you can drive your own reindeer for 3-4 hours and enjoy eating a traditional meal out in the wilderness.
For those seeking greater adventures, there’s the possibility of joining a longer tour of up to a week. “all of our activities have their roots in the Sámi culture. The driving force behind Nutti Sámi Siida is to spread knowledge about our people and traditions while conserving traditional knowledge. many of these experiences take us out into the wilderness without electricity or wireless coverage. Stressed out city dwellers need a couple of days to land. in the grandeur of this cultural landscape, with its deep azure sky, rolling mountain landscape with an unencumbered view of the horizon, people’s minds open and relax.”
Instead of measuring and weighing the day in distance and time, the Sámi view is conveyed: see the small details in the greatness. We talk about why the winter sky is so red, why a tree looks like it does, are fascinated by the dancing northern lights that brighten the winter skies or are struck with awe by the beauty of the midnight sun on serenely light summer nights. The experiences and meeting with untamed nature opens people’s eyes, allowing them to think differently about their everyday lives, says Anders.
When we return to the kåta, the preparations for the evening’s activities are in full swing. “Being together in the wilderness brings people closer to one another”, concludes Anders Kärrstedt.