Sámi in Gulag

Gulag camps on the Kola Peninsula

Leif Rantala was a lecturer of Sámi language and culture in University of Lapland. He was a Kola Sámi -expert and one of his last publications was a small, but important booklet in Norwegian: Kola-samer som ble ofre for Stalins terror (2014) ( ”Kola-Sámi victims of Stalin´s terror”). The booklet is also translated to Russian.

GULAG was a prison-camp system in Soviet Union (Главное управление лагерей = main administration of the camps). The peak of the Great Terror was in 1937-38. Altogether 20-30 million people were liquidated.
In Rantala´s booklet there´s a map of GULAG in Kola Peninsula. There´s 126 names in Rantala´s list. Not all of them were shot, many spent 5-10 years in a prison-camp.

Leif Rantala died in 2015. His Sámi collection is now in Siida Sámi Museum in Inari. Rantala also helped building a collection of Russian Arctic literature for Arktikum´s library in Rovaniemi.

Read more about Kola Sámi in English:

Lukas Allemann: The Sami of Kola Peninsula. About a life of an ethnic minority in the Soviet Union. 2013.

Tero & Kaisu Mustonen: Eastern Sámi Atlas. 2011. (Includes Leif Rantala´s article about Akkala Sámi who live in Juonni (Jona) village.)

Michael P. Robinson & Kassam Karim-Aly: Sami Potatoes – Living with Reindeer and Perestroika. 1998.


Cover: Kola Sámi at the Umba folk music festival, 2011. Photo by Pasi Pikkupeura

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