Bioversity international

Chapter 2. Voices from Arctic nomads: an ancestral system facing global warming Reindeer herding food system of the Inari Sámi people in Nellim, Finland

  • Inari Sámi of Nellim community
    Municipality of Inari, Finland
  • Inka Saara Arttijeff
    Sámi Parliament in Finland
  • Elle Maarit Arttijeff
    Sámi Parliament in Finland
  • Tero Mustonen
    Snowchange Cooperative

At a glance

This study profiles the Indigenous People’s food system of the Inari Sámi community called Nellim, located in Finland, in the municipality of Inari. Results of the research demonstrate that the Inari Sámi traditional food system has survived, largely as a result of continuation of traditional livelihoods such as reindeer herding, fishing, hunting and gathering. Traditional Inari Sámi foods include reindeer meat, fish, wild berries and game meat. In general, reindeer meat was shown to be the most important source of protein, albeit fish is also highly consumed. Wild berries, such as lingonberries and cloudberries, are still consumed as an important source of vitamins and minerals. Food purchasing from grocery stores, however, has become a normal way of obtaining food along with traditional livelihoods. Traditional dishes and cooking methods have not changed significantly in the past 50 to 100 years. However, various factors, principally environmental changes caused by competitive land usage and climate change, are decreasing the key food resources as practicing and maintaining traditional livelihoods and knowledge become more challenging. Deforestation is seen as the main influential factor, thus protecting the land environments that produce the Inari Sámi traditional food system is crucial.

“When we speak about fish, we speak about whitefish, unless otherwise specified.”

Elder from Nellim community.
United Nations Geospatial. 2021. Map of the World. Washington, D.C., UN. [Cited 7 June 2021.]
  • Note from the editors: Inari Sámi terms are mentioned using the official alphabet for Inari Sámi officially adopted in 1996.