Sings to save his language

KAUTOKEINO: Even though the Kildin Sámi language is at risk of dying out, the culture and traditions can be saved through music.


Kildin Sámi is one of many small indigenous languages in Russia that are about to die out. Today only 600 people know the language. Two of them are under 50 years old.

Detached from his roots
Vasiliy Maminov from Monchegorsk on the Kola Peninsula is one of the people who do know the language. But he had to make an effort learning it, as he belongs to the first generation of Sámi people growing up in the city. 

“My mother and my grandparents were reindeer herders, fishermen and hunters,” he explains. “My generation, on the other hand, is detached from our roots and I had to learn the language in courses,” he says.  

In 2005 he started to play Ethno Rock in order to use the language. Now he hopes that his music can inspire more Sámi people to be interested in their culture. 

“Of course it`s up to them if they are drawn towards the Sámi culture or not, but I hope to be an inspiration,” he says.  

Common goal
Maminov is in Kautokeino in Northern Norway to perform at the Sámi Music Festival. The festival is better known as Sámi Grand Prix and is the main cultural event for the Sámi people living in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The aim of the festival is to make the Sámi people proud of their culture and language, but also to be an arena for up and coming artists.

“We want the Sámi Music Festival to represent the whole of Sápmi”, says Klemet Anders Buljo, who is the producer of the festival.  

According to him it is important for the organizers to include their brothers and sisters in Russia, as their music traditions are about to die out.  

“We want to preserve the music traditions in Russia. Therefore we are using lots of energy recruiting artists from the Russian side of Sápmi,“ he says.  

One people
Maminonov believes it is both prestigious and important to perform in front of the Sámi people from the other countries. 

“We are one people living in four national states, and even though we are separated by borders and places of residence we must strive towards being united as a whole,” he says.

 “I don`t think the audience know so much about the Russian Sámi music, but I hope they will like what they hear,” he adds.