The Need for Visibility and Voice of Sami People in Art Education

  • Laurie A. Eldridge


In 2013, I spent six months in Finland pursuing questions concerning the presence of Sami people (the Indigenous people of northern Europe) in Finnish art education. In this combination study of microethography and narrative analysis that utilizes an Indigenous research paradigm, I asked Sami research participants about how they would like to be represented in art classes. Data description highlights the Sami research participants’ voices, as the presence of Indigenous people is often lacking in education due to the effects of colonization. Analysis of the data shows that these research participants think that media, education, and tourism all contribute to negative stereotypes of Sami people. In conclusion, art educators are in a unique and important position to educate students about Sami people so that stereotypes are not perpetuated and so that Sami people gain visibility and voices in global discourse concerning decolonization efforts in education.

Author Biography

Laurie A. Eldridge




Ballengee-Morris, C., Mirin, K., & Rizzi, C. (2000). Decolonization, art education and one Guarani nation of Brazil. Studies in Art Education, 41(2), 100-113.

Ballengee-Morris, C. (2010). They came, they claimed, they named and we blame: Art education in negotiation and conflict. Studies in Art Education, 51(3), 275-287.

Connelly, F. M., & Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(5), 2-14.

Conrad, J. (2000). Sami reindeer-herders today: Image or reality? Scandinavian Review, 87(3), 41-48.

Eldridge, L. (2014). Using Indigenous research methodologies in arts education. Voices for Tomorrow: Sixth International Journal of Intercultural Arts Education, Research Report 352, 121-130.

Eldridge, L. (2008). Indigenous research methodologies in art education. Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, 26, 40-50.

Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, white masks. New York City: Grove Press.

Henriksen, J. B. (2008). The continuous process of recognition and implementation of the Sami people’s right to self-determination. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 21(1), 27-40.

Jonsson, G., Sarri, C., & Alerby, A. (2012). “Too hot for the reindeer”- voicing Sami children’s visions of the future. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 21(2), 95-107.

Kestitalo, P., Määtä, K., & Uusiautti, S. (2011). The prospects of ethnography at the Sami school. Journal of Studies in Education, 1(1), 1-30.

Keskitalo, P., Uusiautti, S., & Määttä, K. (2012a). How to make the small Indigenous cultures bloom? Special traits of Sami education in Finland. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 15(1), 2-63.

Kestitalo, P., Määtä, K. & Uusiautti, S. (2012b). Ethical perspectives on Sami school research. International Journal of Education, 4(4), 267-283.

Koslin, D. (2010). The way of Sami duodji: From nomadic necessity to trademarked lifestyle. Textile Society of America Symposium Proceedings. Retrieved from

Kuokkanen, R. (2003). “Survivance” in Sami and First Nation boarding school narratives. American Indian Quarterly, 27(3 & 4), 697-726.

Kuokkanen, R. (2005). Láhi and attáldat: The philosophy of the gift and Sami education. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Research, 34. 20-32.

Kuokkanen, R. (2008). Sami higher education and research: Toward building a vision for future. In H. Minde (Ed.), Indigenous people: Self-determination, knowledge, indigeneity (pp. 267-286). Delft, the Netherlands: Eburon.

Lai, A. (2012). Culturally responsive. Art Education, 65(5), 18-23.

Lehtola, V. P. (2010). The Sámi people: Traditions in transition (L. W. Müller-Wille, Trans.). Inari, Finland: Kustannus-Puntsi. Lehtola, J. (2011). The far north of postcards is another world – six aspects of an imaged people. In M. Tanninen-Mattila (Ed.), The magic of Lapland: Lapland in art from the 1800s to today (pp. 207-213). Helsinki, Finland: Ateneum Art Museum/Finnish National Gallery.

Levy, J. E. (2006). Prehistory, identity and archaeological representation in Nordic museums. American Anthropologist, 108(1), 135-147.

Mäenpää, K. (2013, January 1). Researcher explores ‘being Sami.’ The Finnish American Reporter, pp. 12.

Minde, H. (2005). Assimilation of the Sami – Implementation and consequences. Gáldu Čála – Journal of Indigenous Peoples Rights, 3, 6-33.

Pietikäinen, S. (2001). On the fringe: News representations of the Sami. Social Identities, 7(4), 637-657.

Pietikäinen, S. (2003). Indigenous identity in print: Representations of the Sami in news discourse. Discourse & Society, 14(5), 581-609.

Pietkäinen, S. & Kelly-Holmes, H. (2011). The local political economy of languages in a Sami tourism destination: Authenticity and mobility in the labelling of souvenirs. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 15(3), 323-346.

Smith, L. T. (2000). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous people. Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago Press.

Stevenson, C. B. (2001). Modern Indigenous curriculum: Teaching Indigenous knowledge of handicraft at Sami colleges in Finland and Norway (unpublished master’s thesis). McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Swadener, B. B. & Mutua, K. (2008). Decolonizing performances: Deconstructing the global postcolonial. In N.K. Denzin, Y.S. Lincoln & L.T. Smith (Eds.), Handbook of critical and Indigenous methodologies (pp. 31-45). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.