In Enontekiö, nature means everything: without it, there is no culture either. Living off land is is part of everyday life. Nature dictates the rhythm of life: living here requires listening with the utmost care.
Reindeer herding is a major occupation in Enontekiö: there are close to 18 000 reindeer here. They are semi-wild, living freely in nature, but still someone’s legal property. Their ear marks are proof of ownership. Marking the fawns requires gathering up the reindeer into herds. Herding them to the marking site is a challenging task that calls for a keen understanding of nature and reindeer, something that has been passed down along the generations. Admittedly, modern technology, such as GPS and snowmobiles, has made the task easier. People’s lives revolve around the reindeer’s annual cycle. The key events are fawning, marking and the annual round-up. Learn more reindeer facts.
Reindeer are also an integral part of handicrafts here. Their antlers and bones have been used to make utensils and jewellery for as long as people have herded them. Their tanned leather is used in clothes, bags, pouches and shoes. The traditional willow bark tanning process gives the leather a beautiful fawn hue. The long process also makes the leather lovely and soft.
Living off the land through hunting, fishing and foraging is a normal source of livelihood in Enontekiö. Especially cloudberries and grouse are in high demand, which the locals don’t mind. Lapland’s Arctic conditions and Midnight Sun pack the local berries, herbs and vegetables full of nutrients.
Enontekiö is part of Sápmi, the Sámi home region, that includes parts of Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. In Finland, it includes the municipalities of Utsjoki, Inari and Enontekiö as well as northern Sodankylä. The Sámi are the only indigenous people in the European Union. Enontekiö is bilingual, the official languages are Finnish and Northern Sámi. To learn more about the Sámi, visit the Sámediggi website.
If you want to explore the world of the Sámi, you can start at the Fell Lapland Visitor Centre and then try some of the activities offered by the local Sámi travel companies. St. Mary’s Day Festival is an important spring event that has been celebrated since the mid-1800s and still continues to draw people from various parts of Sápmi.
Enontekiö has about 450 km of shared border with Norway and Sweden. Naturally, collaboration across borders has always been part of life. In Norway, the neighbouring municipalities are Storfjord and Kautokeino, in Sweden, it’s Kiruna.
It might seem like Enontekiö is in the middle of nowhere, but when you really think about it, it’s right in the middle of everything.
We have clean air, clear waters and room to breathe. When you're out and about in Enontekiö, do remember that while the environment may seem barren, it's actually full of life. You’re in someone’s home: the local people, animals and plants all co-exist here.
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