Sámi landscape terms

The Sámi cultural landscape lacks solid, visible boundaries. Traces of human activity are subtle and blend into the landscape. For those who can interpret the signs and understand the traces, and know the names and remember the tales, the landscape is apparent. For the uninitiated, the message is invisible and inaccessible.


The purpose of this text is to provide a glimpse into a landscape built on the experience of earlier generations. This knowledge provides the occasional visitor to Vindelfjällen with a better understanding of the landscape. One should also be aware that everyone, irrespective of one’s origin, possesses an inner map that builds on one’s own and earlier experiences. Understanding place names improves one’s own inner map. Several village residents’ associations now document the local dialectal terms for various places: fields, fishing and hunting sites, paths etc with special names.


It is not unusual for natural objects, such as large boulders, strangely formed mountains, waterfalls and so on to have tales associated with them. Names for natural features reflect how the landscape and its features are appreciated. Places with religious or mystical associations have names; Bassevarre and Ahkavarre are holy mountains. Siejddegavva is also a holy place.


Most of Vindelfjällen belongs to the Ume Sámi language area. Ume Sámi is a transitory form between Lule Sámi and South Sámi. Here we provide a number of Ume Sámi landscape terms.


Learn some of the many landscape words that are part of the Sámi cultural landscape.


Ájtienjas      viste

Ájtenjasse      small building for storage

Aphe         large mire                                                    

Bákttie      Steep cliff

Bertejaure      björksjön Biertiejávrrie = the lake on the edge of the mountain

Biergienas      take care alone in the mountain

Bissitjs      probably from bissie=holy

Dalevárdduo      Low mountain in the shape of a box for meat storage

Gautsträsk      Geävttsjávrrie      the lake skålsjön                                   

Stuor         large                                                     

Tjåhke      mountain top

Tjårro        ridge

Jávrátje      small lake                                                        

Jávrrie       lake 

Juhke        stream

Juhkegasske      between streams

Gájsátje      high mountain                                                                  

Gasske     between                                    

Gájssie       steep mountain

Gieråjvvie      head of a grouse                         

Gårssa       ravine

Lijbuojávrrie      flat stone lake

Lihpuojávrrie      same as Lijbuo                    

Lusspie       were a river runs out of a lake

Luoktte      bay                                                       

Luvlinmes  over

Njierievbeäjvvie      low mountain with flat landscape beside

Rijbuovárdduo      In front of mountain

Skeble/skeäbllie      cold and flat valley

Stuvbiebákttie      precipice, cliff on high mountain

Tjaskál      track from raindeer                                                                

Vaggie       valley

Várdduo      low mountain whith view point                                                            

Varre         hill, mountain                                       

Voöllie        lower

Åjvvie      low mountain with a shape look like a head

Äjvesåjvvie      Holy head