In my talk, I will discuss Sámi-language education in Norway, Sweden and Finland in the first half of the twentieth century. After a historical introduction to Nordic educational policies targeting the indigenous Sámi population, I will present a number of educational authorities and Sámi teachers and examine their arguments for and against the use of Sámi as language of instruction. I am more specifically interested in the educational and societal functions that these authorities and teachers ascribed to Sámi language.

Through this discussion on functions, my talk paints a broad picture of the ways the Sámi themselves and Nordic majority societies viewed Sámi language, especially in the context of education. I will begin and finish my talk with some recent examples of Sámi education in the Nordics.