Norway – The Lapps

They are racially different from the Norsemen. They come not from Aryan, but from a Ugro-Finnic or Turanian branch of the Mongoloid stock, and (save where members have intermarried with Norwegians) are a separate people, somewhat as the American Indians are separate from the white people of the United States. The Lapps are often spoken of as the aborigines of Scandinavia, but modern scholar-ship has entirely discredited this. (See preceding chapter.) They have a vague tradition that in some prehistoric period their ancestors came “from the east,” i. e., probably from Siberia or North Central Asia. At present the Lapp population within the kingdom of Norway is about 20,000. Half as many again (37,000) live in northern Sweden, and others of the same blood make their homes in Finland and Russia.

These people call themselves Same. The name “Lapp” comes from the Finnish word lappaan, meaning to move from place to place. From time immemorial the people have been nomads—here at one season of the year—there at another season, changing their location largely in accordance with the needs of the herds of reindeer, their chief resource for subsistance. At the present time the larger part of the 20,000 Lapps in Norway have practically abandoned the roving habits of their ancestors, and make permanent or semi-permanent homes. Some have adopted fishing as a means of livelihood ; some have gone into systematic stock-raising; not so many take to farming.

Those who live all or part of the year near Norwegian towns or villages, share in the education and religious privileges of the Norwegian population. Their children go to school, and become as well educated as other country children. They are instructed in the (Lutheran) church catechism and duly confirmed in the established faith. As a rule, the people are punctiliously observant of religious obligations, calling on some ordained priest to perform marriage and burial services. Their profession of Christianity is, however, of comparatively brief standing. Until about two centuries ago, when missionaries began to work for their conversion, they had a picturesque pagan faith of their own, including a belief in immortality, the future life being practically very much like life here on earth.

Many Lapps are now distinctly thrifty and prosperous, with homes quite comfortably equipped, and capital accumulating in savings banks. A few emigrate to America.

The Lapps are physically very different from Norwegians. They are much shorter in stature (less than five feet tall), with darker hair, higher cheek-bones, and a lower, more slanting forehead—(what anthropologists call a brachycephalous type).

Besides the Lapps there is another Ugro-Finnic element in the population of Norway, the Quanes (Norwegian kvaemer). They are immigrants from Finland, and are racially and linguistically akin to the Lapps, but are physically somewhat larger. A few hundred of them settled in certain parts of southern Norway about the year 1600. Anthropologically this Finnish element is still recognizable, but their language has almost disappeared. During the early part of the eighteenth century, and especially during the middle of the nineteenth century, large numbers (about 10,000) of these people settled in the northern provinces of Norway, having deserted their native heath in northern Finland during times of war and famine.

The correct name for the original Ugro-Finnic population of northern Norway is Finns. They were so called by Ohthere, a Norseman, who told Alfred the Great about these people. The Finns of Norway consider the word Lapp a term of reproach. In Sweden, the term Lapp is invariably used to designate these hyperboreans, while the term Finn is applied only to the inhabitants of Finland. In order to avoid confusion the designation Lapp is becoming more common in Norway.