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The Sami Parliament of Norway (Sametinget in Norwegian, Sámediggi in Northern Sami, Sämitigge in Inari Sami, in Skolt Sami) is the representative body for people of Sami heritage in Norwaymarker. It act as an institution of cultural autonomy for the indigenous Sami people.

The Parliament was opened on 9 October 1989. The seat is in Kárášjohkamarker (Karasjok). It currently has 43 representatives, who are elected every four years by direct vote from 13 constituencies. The next election is in 2009. Unlike in Finland, the 13 constituencies cover all of Norway. The current president is Egil Olli who represents the Labour Party.


In 1964, the Norwegian Sámi Council was established to address Sámi matters. The members of the body were appointed by state authorities. This body was replaced by the Sami Parliament.

In 1978, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate published a plan that called for the construction of a dam and hydroelectric power plant that would create an artificial lake and inundate the Sami village of Máze. This plan was met by strong opposition from the Sámi, and resulted in the Alta controversy. As a result of the controversy, the Norwegian government held meetings in 1980 and 1981 with a Sámi delegation appointed by the Norwegian Sámi Association, the Sámi Reindeer Herders’ Association of Norway and the Norwegian Sámi Council. The meetings resulted in the establishment of a committee to discuss Sámi cultural issues, and the Sámi Rights Committee addressing Sámi legal relations. The latter proposed a democratically elected body for the Sámis, resulting in the Sámi Act of 1987. In addition, the Sámi Rights Committee resulted in the 1988 amendment of the Norwegian Constitution, and the adoption of the Finnmark Act in 2005.

The Sámi Act (1987:56), stipulating the responsibilities and powers of the Norwegian Sami Parliament, was passed by the Norwegian Parliament on 12 June 1987 and took effect on 24 February 1989. The first session of the Sami Parliament was convened on 9 October 1989 and was opened by King Olav V.


The Norwegian Sámi Parliament plenary (dievasčoahkkin) has 43 representative elected by direct vote from 13 constituencies. The plenary is the highest body in the Sami Parliament and it is sovereign in the execution of the Sami Parliaments duties within the framework of the Sámi Act. The representatives from the largest party (or from a collaboration of parties) form an executive council (Sámediggeráđi), and selects a president and vice-president. The executive council is responsible for executing the roles and responsibilities of the parliament between plenary meetings. In addition there are multiple thematic committees addressing specific cases.


The current president is Egil Olli representing the Labour Party.

The presidents have been:
  • Aili Keskitalo from 2005 to 2007, representing Norwegian Sámi Association.
  • Sven-Roald Nystø from 2001 to 2005, representing Norwegian Sámi Association.
  • Sven-Roald Nystø from 1997 to 2001, representing Norwegian Sámi Association.
  • Ole Henrik Magga from 1993 to 1997, representing Norwegian Sámi Association.
  • Ole Henrik Magga from 1989 to 1993, representing Norwegian Sámi Association.


The Sami Parliament of Norway is located in Kárášjohkamarker (Karasjok), and the building was inaugurated on 2 November 2000. There are also offices Guovdageaidnumarker (Kautokeino), Unjárgamarker (Nesseby), Gáivuotnamarker (Kåfjord), Tysfjordmarker, and Snåsamarker.

In 2006 about 115 people were employed.


The parliament works with political issues it considers relevant or of interest to the Sami people. The responsibilities of the Sami Parliament in Norwaymarker are: "(1) to serve as the Sámis’ elected political body to promote political initiatives and (2) to carry out the administrative tasks delegated from national authorities or by law to the Sámi Parliament.".

The extent of responsibility that was assigned and transferred from the Norwegian government at the time of establishment was modest (1989). However, more responsibilities have been added including :
  • Management of the Sámi Development Fund, which is used for grants to Sámi organizations and Sámi duodji (1989).
  • Responsibility for the development of the Sámi language in Norway, including allocation of funds to Sami language municipalities and counties (1992).
  • Responsibility for Sámi culture with a Sámi culture, including a fund from the Norwegian Council for Cultural Affairs (1993).
  • Protection of Sámi cultural heritage sites (1994).
  • Development of Sámi teaching aids, including allocation of grants for this purpose (2000).
  • Election of 50% of the members to the board in the Finnmark Estate (2006).

One of the responsibilities is ensuring that the section 1–5 of the Saami Act (1987:56) is upheld, i.e., that the Sami languages and Norwegian continue to have the same status. A good example of this is the current situation in Tysfjordmarker, where speakers of Lule Sami cannot conduct their official business in that language as the municipality has not provided anyone who can speak it to assist them. This is the only municipality in Norwaymarker where speakers of that language should theoretically be able to speak it with officials, but this has not come to fruition; therefore, the Saami Parliament must fight for this cause with Tysfjord and must bring it to the attention of the Norwegian Government, if Tysfjord fails to rectify the situation.


Funding is granted by the Norwegian state over various national budget lines. But the parliament can distribute the received funds according to its own priorities. In the Norwegian government the main responsibility for Sami affairs, including the allocation of funds, is the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion.

The total budget for the Norwegian Sami Parliament has been about:

  • 2008: 311 million NOK .
  • 2007: 275 million NOK (ibid).
  • 2006: 260 million NOK.

In addition the parliament controls the 75 million NOK in "Samefolkets fond". A fund established in 2000 as compensation for the governments Norweganization policy.


To be eligible to vote or be elected to the Norwegian Sami Parliament a person needs to be included in the Sámi census. In order to be included the following criteria must be met as stipulated in Section 2–6 of the Sámi Act: "Everyone who declares that they consider themselves to be Sámi, and who either has Sámi as his or her home language, or has or has had a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent with Sámi as his or her home language, or who is a child of someone who is or has been registered in the Sámi census, has the right to be enrolled in the Sámi census in the municipality of residence."

Norway is divided into 13 constituencies. For each 3 representatives are elected. In addition an additional representative is elected from the four constituencies with most votes. For the 2005-2009 election the constituencies were:

In the county of Finnmarkmarker:
  • Várjjat (the municipalities of: Sør-Varangermarker, Unjárgamarker (Nesseby), Vadsømarker, Vardømarker and Båtsfjordmarker).
    • Representatives (2005-2009): Magnhild Mathisen, Gunn-Britt Retter, and Knut Store
    • The highest electoral turnout in 2005 (79.1%).
  • Deatnu (the municipalities of: Deatnumarker (Tana), Berlevågmarker and Gamvikmarker).
    • Representatives (2005-2009): Marianne Balto Henriksen, Jánoš Trosten, and Per Ivar Henriksen.
  • Kárášjohkamarker (Karasjok) municipality.
    • Representatives (2005-2009): Egil Olli, Terje H. Tretnes, Synnøve Solbakken-Härkönen, and Marie Therese Nordsletta Gaup.
  • Guovdageaidnumarker (Kautokeino) municipality.
    • Representatives (2005-2009): Aili Keskitalo, Per Andersen Bæhr, Isak Mathis O. Hætta, and Klemet Erland Hætta.
    • The largest constituency in 2005 (1 313 eligible voters).
    • Most votes per members in 2005 election (277).
  • Porsáŋgu (the municipalities of: Porsáŋgumarker (Porsanger), Lebesbymarker, Nordkappmarker and Måsøymarker).
    • Representatives (2005-2009): Josef Ingmar Vedhugnes, Olaf Eliassen, and Wiebke Synnøve Slåtsveen.
  • Áltá/Fálesnuorri (the municipalities of: Kvalsundmarker, Hammerfestmarker, Alta, Hasvikmarker and Loppamarker).
    • Representatives (2005-2009): Per Edvind Varsi, John Harald Skum, Toril Bakken, and Inger Jørstad.

In the county of Troms:

In the county of Nordlandmarker:

For the remaining counties of southern Norway:


The following parties had an electoral list (listu in Sami, and liste in Norwegian) in one or more constituencies at the 2005 election:

The results of the vote where that :
  • Norwegian Sami Association got 18 representatives (and for the first time did not have the majority in the parliament).
  • Labour Party also got 18 representatives.
  • Johttisápmelaččaid Listu, Åarjel læstoe, Sami People's Party, Finnmark list, Dáloniid Listu, Centre Party, and Sami resident in Southern-Norway each got 1 representative.

Since no party had a majority of the mandates a coalition was formed for the executive council consisting of: Norwegian Sami Association, Sami resident in Southern-Norway, Johttisápmelaččaid Listu, Centre Party, and Sami People's Party. Aili Keskitalo from the Norwegian Sami Association was elected as the president. Johan Mikkel Sara from Sami resident in Southern-Norway got the vice president position, while Per A. Bær got a seat in the board of the Finnmark Estate. The six members in the executive council consisted in addition to the president and vice-president of: Terje Tretnes (Sami People's Party), Randi A. Skum, and Jarle Jonassen (the later both from Norwegian Sami Association).

Later Jánoš Trosten left Norwegian Sami Association and formed his own party: Čielga Sámi Jietna, while Anders Urheim left the Labour party and formed the Sosialdemokraten group. Thus leaving, the two largest parties with 17 mandates each.

After the election in 2005 Aili Keskitalo became president. She represents the Norwegian Sámi Association. On September 25th she resigned after the coalition forming the executive council was split up due to problems cooperating with vice president Johan Mikkel Sara.

On September 26th Labour Party formed an executive council consisting of: the new president Egil Olli, new vice-president Marianne Balto, Jørn Are Gaski, Hilde Nyvoll, and Vibeke Larsen. The Labour Party does not have the majority in the parliament.

Cooperation with the state government

In the Norwegian central administration the coordinating organ and central administrator for Sámi issues is the Department of Sámi and Minority Affairs in the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion. This department also coordinates interministerial and Nordic state cooperation regarding Sámi issues. The Sámi Parliament is consulted when state government issues affect Sámi interests. .


  4. 49,1 millioner mer til samiske formål - NRK Sámi Radio - NRK
  6. Tabell 2 Sametingsvalet 2005. Valde representantar, etter parti1, kjønn og valkrins
  7. Norgga Sámiid Riikkasearvi - Norske Samers Riksforbund - Samarbeidsavtale mellom NSR og gruppen på fire representanter 2005
  8. – Ingen hyggelig dag - NRK Sámi Radio - NRK

See also

External links

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