The Sami Parliament of Norway (Norwegian: Sametinget, Northern Sami: Sámediggi, Lule Sami: Sámedigge, Southern Sami: Saemiedigkie, Skolt Sami: Sääʹmteʹǧǧ) is the representative body for people of Sami heritage in Norway. It acts as an institution of cultural autonomy for the indigenous Sami people.

The Parliament was opened on 9 October 1989. The seat is in the village of Kárášjohka (Karasjok) in Kárášjohka Municipality in Finnmark county. It currently has 39 representatives, who are elected every four years by direct vote from 7 constituencies. The last election was in 2017. Unlike in Finland, the 7 constituencies cover all of Norway. The current president is Aili Keskitalo who represents the Norwegian Sami Association.


Plenary of the inaugural Sami Parliament in 1989

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.[1]

Harald V opening the new building in 2000

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.


Sven-Roald Nystø, Aili Keskitalo and Ole Henrik Magga were the first three presidents

The Norwegian Sámi Parliament plenary (dievasčoahkkin) has 39 representatives elected by direct vote from 7 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.[2]


President Term Party
Ole Henrik Magga 1989–1993 Norwegian Sami Association
Ole Henrik Magga 1993–1997 Norwegian Sami Association
Sven-Roald Nystø 1997–2001 Norwegian Sami Association
Sven-Roald Nystø 2001–2005 Norwegian Sami Association
Aili Keskitalo 2005–2007 Norwegian Sami Association
Egil Olli 2007–2009 Labour Party
Egil Olli 2009–2013 Labour Party
Aili Keskitalo 2013– Norwegian Sami Association


The Sámi Parliament building in Norway
The Guovdageaidnu office of the Sámi Parliament of Norway

The Sami Parliament of Norway is located in Kárášjohka (Karasjok), and the building was inaugurated on 2 November 2000. There are also offices in Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino), Unjárga (Nesseby), Gáivuotna (Kåfjord), Divtasvuodna (Tysfjord), and Snåase (Snåsa).

The town of Kárášjohka is considered an important center of Sami culture in Norway. Approximately 80% of the town's population is Sami-speaking, and the town also hosts Sami broadcasting stations and several public and private Sami institutions such as the Sami Museum and the Sami chamber of commerce (Sami Trade and Industry).[3][4]


The building was designed by the architects Stein Halvorsen & Christian Sundby, who won the Norwegian government's call for projects in 1995, and inaugurated in 2005. The government called for a building such that “the Sámi Parliament appears in a dignified way” and “reflects Sámi architecture.” Hence the peaked structure of the Plenary Assembly Hall resembles the tipis the Sami used as a nomadic culture. The parliament building also houses a Sami library focussing on books in the Sami language or on Sami topics, and the Sami chamber of commerce, 'Sami Trade and Industry'.[5][6]


The parliament works with political issues it considers relevant or of interest to the Sami people. The responsibilities of the Sami Parliament in Norway 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.".[2]

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:[7]

  • 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).
The library of the Sámi Parliament in Norway.

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 Tysfjord, 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.[citation needed] This is the only municipality in Norway 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.[2]

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

  • 2016: 464 million NOK.[8]
  • 2008: 311 million NOK.[9]
  • 2007: 275 million NOK (ibid).
  • 2006: 260 million NOK.

In addition the parliament controls "Samefolkets fond", a fund established in 2000 as a compensation for the government's previous policy of "Norwegianizing" the Sami population.

Salaries and other expenses

None of the MPs receive salaries.[citation needed]


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." [10] Results of the last election:

e • d  Summary of the 14 September 2009 Norwegian Sami parliamentary election results
Parties Votes % +/− Seats +/−
  Norwegian Labour Party (Norgga
Bargiidbellodat, Det norske Arbeiderparti
2,534 26.8 −5.0 14 −4
  Norwegian Sami Association (Norgga Sámiid
Riikkasearvi, Norske Samers Riksforbund
, NSR)
1,986 21.0 −5.3 11 −5
  Árja 949 10.0 3
  Progress Party (Ovddádusbellodat, Fremskrittspartiet) 737 7.8 +5.5 3 +3
  Centre Party (Guovddásbellodat, Senterpartiet) 466 4.9 −1.8 0 −1
  Conservative Party (Olgesbellodat, Høyre) 439 4.6 +2.2 1 +1
  Kautokeino reindeer herders list
(Johttisápmelaccaid listu, Kautokeino flyttsameliste)
411 4.4 2
  Norwegian Sami National Association and
Sami People joint list (Norgga Sámiid Riikkasearvvi ja
Sámeálbmot Bellodaga oktasaslista, NSR felles
366 3.9 2
  Sami League of Nation
(Sámiid Álbmotlihttu, Samenes Folkeforbund)
297 3.1 −1.8 0 0
  Sami People's Party (Samefolkets parti) 221 2.3 −1.5 0 −1
  Sami residents in Southern Norway
(Sámit Mátta/Lulli-Norggas, Samer bosatt i Sør-Norge)
191 2.0 +0.2 1 0
  Nordkalottfolket 184 1.9 1
  Åarjel-Saemiej Gielh (ÅaSG) 146 1.5 1
  Non-reindeer herders list
(Dáloniid Listu, Fastboendes Liste)
124 1.3 0
  Common list (Oktasaslista, Felleslista) 110 1.2 0
  Ofelas 75 0.8 0
  Socialist Left Party (Sosialistalas
Gurutbellodat, Sosialistisk Venstreparti
64 0.7 −2.8 0 0
  Sjaddo 55 0.6 0
  Christian Democratic Party (Kristelig Folkeparti) 48 0.5 0
  Liberal Party (Gurutbellodat, Venstre) 45 0.5 −0.2 0 0
9,448 100% 39

Cooperation with the state government

Plenary hall

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.[11]

See also


External links

On gender balance in the parliament: