Scientific and cultural significance of the archive
The significance for research derives from diverse cultural data, which has not been used widely in previous research. The collections bear significance also for the general cultural study of Northern Finland and the entire Saami area in Scandinavia and Kola Peninsula, as the Saami are the indigenous people of the area and therefore the data collected from the Saami offers an indigenous perspective to the history of the whole region.
The archive has a significant potential for linguistic research and developing the teaching as well as in the language revitalisation efforts, as the archive will serve as a vast source of material that can be used in the study and teaching of Saami languages. The archive material is an especially important resource for linguistics as speech is the primary form of language, but in spite of this, the existing vast collections of sound material have nevertheless played a surprisingly small role as sources of research material during past decades.
All Saami languages are minority languages in countries where they are spoken. Furthermore, UNESCO classifies all of them as endangered. Linguistic material can be accessed through Saami Culture Archive. This enforces research and revitalisation of the Saami languages. It also has substantial value when organising teaching or creating and publishing materials for studying the Saami languages. Since the Saami languages are spoken over such a vast geographical area, the study of local Saami languages also benefits in understanding the other languages in those areas, due to centuries of language contacts.
Research of the Saami culture
In the field of Saami cultural studies, it is noteworthy that Saami oral tradition of historical knowledge can be found from the archive material. On a general level this material offers an important Saami perspective as it shows the Saami as active and productive people in contrast to earlier research, in which the Saami were often seen only as passive objects of the actions of the majorities. In the archive material there are Saami oral histories and descriptions of the Saami culture told by the Saami themselves in their own mother tongue.
This can lead to an entirely new and broader perspective on how people have lived and still live in the Northwest of Europe. The earliest informants were born in the 19th century, and therefore the historical memory stretches back over a hundred years. It is also important to note that historical knowledge is transferred orally in audio material, and it therefore resembles the way of how oral history was transferred between generations in the traditional Saami society.
Due to radical change from traditional to modern society during the last decades, a notable amount of the traditional knowledge has vanished. However, archive material can compensate this process at least partly, as the archive material can function in a supportive role for present-day Saami generations and strengthen their Saami culture. This has already been shown in the process of the revitalisation of the Inari Saami language and culture, documented in the book Revitalising Indigenous Languages How to Recreate a Lost Generation by Marja-Liisa Olthuis, Suvi Kivelä and Tove Skuttnab-Kangas (2013). In the future, the collections of the Saami Cultural Archive can be used in various revitalising projects of Saami languages and local cultures
Last updated: 2.9.2014