The Sámi are the indigenous people of Northern Europe. Their homeland, Sápmi, extends through four countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. The Sámi are one nation spread across four countries.
From the ten Sámi languages, nine are still spoken, but all languages are considered endangered. Skábma - Snowfall is voice-acted in the most spoken of them: Northern Sámi (davvisámegiella).
Traditionally the Sámi living in Sámiland have gotten their livelihood from nature: through reindeer husbandry, making and selling traditional Duodji handcrafts or through tourism. Not all Sámi own reindeer though: historically the Sámi has had a very rich hunting, gathering and fishing culture as well.
However, the Sámi's world has changed and the traditional ways of living are facing many threats: all the way from the global warming to the mining and forest industry taking over the Sápmi.
Nowadays many Sámi families and especially the young Sámi has moved to the cities, away from their homeland, and are striving to keep connected to their roots, maintain their culture and pass the knowledge and language to the next generation.
But as long as there is one who remembers the stories, one who speaks the language, one who remembers, there is hope.
Skábma - Snowfall game is a work of fiction although very much inspired by the Sámi people and their culture. The game combines the old knowledge from various sources and different parts of Sámiland: all these diverse stories and characters are true and can co-exist in the framework of Skábma. The characters from traditional Sámi stories and old Sámi beliefs presented in the game are intellectual property of Sámi. They are owned collectively by Sámi and do not belong to any individual or company.
"This game is dedicated to all the young Sámi, who are facing the challenges and stress of keeping their culture alive, while outside world makes it harder and harder every day.
I hope that the present generation can finally be proud of their culture and live without the shame that the generations before had to carry. I wish they dare to be bold and create new Sámi culture: games, comics, tv-shows, animations to reclaim the culture and renew it on their own terms."
Eira-Teresá Joret Mariánná
-The Writer of Skábma - Snowfall
Terms to know
SIIDA: Historically Sámi society was formed by Siidas, villages. It was a system that took care of the operations of the village and set the boundaries where to hunt and where the summer and winter pastures were. So although the nomad Sámi were moving with their reindeer, they had their own specific living areas. Reindeer husbandry is still one of the symbols of Sámi. However not all families have practiced reindeer herding: depending on the area they lived they relied on fishing and hunting as the main source of food and resources.
NOAIDI: Before the christian priests arrived in Sámiland the Sámi belief system was built upon the relations between the human and nature. The cosmos included the physical and spiritual world and it was cared for with the help of different rituals and Sámi shamans, Noaidi. The Noaidi was the healer and protector of Siida, and most importantly, the mediator between humans and the spirits.
GOAVDDIS: Each Noaidi had a drum, goavddis. It was a powerful tool that helped the Noaidi fall into trance and travel through the world and spirit realms. The drum was covered with runes that the Noaidi used to foresee the future, where the pray was, whether it was a good day to hunt or not. Nowadays the meaning of these runes can only be guessed. The runes used in Skábma are not traditional Sámi drum runes for the reason that we don't know their exact meaning: who knows what kind of powerful magic they might contain?
SIEIDI: The Sámi families had their sacred places in the nature: usually unusual rock formations, special ponds but also could be carved from the tree. This place of worship was called Sieidi. The Sámi offered sacrifices to these Sieidis, animals, their blood and especially reindeer antlers. The Sámi prayed for good luck for hunting or fishing, The spirit of Siedi could be shown to Sámi as human or animal form.
SÁIVU: Sáivu is an idea of a Sámi spirit world. The Sáivu -worlds are known almost everywhere in Sámiland but it meant multiple things depending what part of Sámiland you were from: for some Sámi it was the place where Sámi people went after they died, a Sámi paradise, to others it was a spirit realm, a home of deities, Familiars and Sáivo people. It was also a home for underground beings called Gufihtar. However it is a bit unclear whether the Sáivo people and Gufihtar meant the same thing or not. The stories vary depending on the region.
YOIK: Yoik is a traditional form of singing performed by Sámi people. The yoik is not only singing, it has a whole philosophy behind it: one sings a place, an animal or a person and brings it to life. When someone yoiks a person, the yoik created is not a singer's property anymore, but the person they have yoiked.
Yoik culture has been forbidden the longest among the christian communities. Even as recently as 2019 artists were forbidden to yoik in churches. Yoiking has been one of the most misunderstood parts of Sámi culture and associated with the devil. Yoiking has also had a strong connection to Noaidi culture that christianity strived to demolish.