4.1 Introduction

Sámi teacher education programmes are primary programmes at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, and have been since its establishment in 1989. Since then, Sámi teacher education has been provided to early childhood educators and both primary and lower-secondary school teachers. Today, Sámi teacher education programmes involve flexible teaching methods including online teaching, teaching at gatherings at the Guovdageaidnu campus and through practicum periods at early childhood centres and primary schools in Norway, Sweden and Finland.

In the article Patient Progress in Facing Challenges to the Establishment of Higher Education in Duodji, Guttorm (2020) discussed how traditional duodji, Sámi craft expertise and skills, served as the basis for higher education in the field of duodji, and described the steps taken at Sámi University of Applied Sciences to adjust the duodji programme to the formal requirements of higher education. In the article, Guttorm presented a model in three steps to visualize three development steps at Sámi University of Applied Sciences. The model was presented by Guttorm et al. (2014) at the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education. The steps are (1) solid foundation, (2) luohkkálanjas várrečohkkii or from the classroom to the top of the mountain and (3) raising awareness and Indigenization. Guttorm (2020) highlighted that the steps are part of an ongoing Sámization and Indigenization process. The Sámization and Indigenization process is needed because the Sámi people, like many other Indigenous peoples, have long been exposed to a policy of assimilation (Dahl, 1976). Until the 1970s, the Sámi faced strong pressure from authorities and the church to assimilate into majority society (Hirvonen, 2000).

During the first step in the model, the focus is on building a solid knowledge foundation with the development of concepts in Sámi for the teaching subjects. We used a lávvu, or tipi, metaphor to explain the construction of a solid foundation at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences: To build a solid lávvu, you need caggi,Footnote 1 three basic poles. The poles are language and language development, Sámi knowledge content, and Sámi teaching and understanding perspectives. The second step, luohkkálanjas várrečohkkii or from the classroom to the top of the mountain, was started in the autumn of 2000 by the teachers, educators and researchers of the VárrečohkkaFootnote 2 project (Guttorm, 2020; Hirvonen, 2000). The project was intended to implement new teaching methods in teacher education based on Sámi learning perspectives; to make traditional Sámi knowledge visible in contemporary teaching settings; and to create awareness of multiculturality, Indigenous peoples and minorities (Hirvonen, 2000). The third step, raising awareness and Indigenization is a currently ongoing process (Guttorm, 2020), a process of reconstructing our identities as Sámi and Indigenous people.

In this chapter, I intend to discuss Sámi teacher education as Indigenous higher education with the aim to explore the cornerstones in Sámi teacher education.

4.2 Approaches to Indigenous Higher Education

Tuhiwai Smith (2012) highlighted that Indigenous peoples share the experiences of imperialism:

It is part of our story, our version of modernity. Writing about our experiences under imperialism and its more specific experiences of colonialism has become a significant project of the Indigenous world (Tuhiwai Smith, 2012, p. 20).

As Indigenous peoples and decolonizing educators, we have, according to Tuhiwai Smith (2012), responsibilities that direct us to be good ancestors to future generations of human and non-human entities. According to Kirkness and Barnhardt (1991), to support the educational needs of Indigenous students and communities, education should be grounded in respect, relevance, reciprocity and responsibility: respect for Indigenous knowledge and traditional approaches to teaching and learning; integration of content that is relevant to, and builds upon, Indigenous students’ relational views of human, natural and spirit worlds; reciprocal teaching and learning relationships that disrupt a teacher–student hierarchy; and the teaching that knowledge entails a responsibility to one’s relations, including future generations (Kirkness & Barnhardt, in Madden, 2015, p. 1).

Reciprocity and relationships that involve acknowledgement and understanding of cultural positionalities and relations of place were highlighted by Styles (2017) as central to working within Indigenous contexts. The book Pathways for Remembering and Recognizing Indigenous Thought in Education is a culmination of the Style’s experiences in coming to understand Indigenous peoples’ land-centred philosophies grounded in ancient knowledges that are continually (re)cognized and (re)generated within contemporary educational landscapes. Learning processes and teaching practices are, according to Styles, formed and informed by connections to land, language self-in-relationship and circularity.

Madden (2015) divides approaches to Indigenous education by teacher educators into four pedagogical pathways. The pathways are

  1. 1.

    learning from traditional Indigenous modes of teaching,

  2. 2.

    pedagogy for decolonizing,

  3. 3.

    Indigenous and antiracist education,

  4. 4.

    Indigenous and placed-based education.

The pathway “learning from Indigenous traditional modes of teaching” is grounded in what has been referred to as traditional knowledge or Indigenous knowledge. Traditional models of teaching occur in living places and involve the learner’s family, clan and tribe in social, environmental and spiritual forms of learning (Cajete, 1994). Archibald’s (2008) assessments of Indigenous storywork offer teachers the opportunity to learn to respectfully use traditional Indigenous stories and experiences in the classroom. She positions this storywork as capable of “educating the heart, mind, body and spirit” by providing a place for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to reflect (p. 144). Teacher education that is grounded in Indigenous knowledges and culture-based teaching views upholds some of the connections between knowledges and the modes through which they have traditionally been transmitted. This does not mean that traditional modes of teaching are practiced, rather that traditional modes of teaching are transformed in the teacher education context. This pathway does not lead directly to exploration of colonial power relations, and it may also run the risk of romanticizing and depoliticizing Indigenous knowledges.

Madden (2015) highlighted that “in general, the studies that compromise the pathway Pedagogy for decolonizing maintain that a significant component of Indigenous education is examining, learning from, and challenging historical and ongoing colonial structures and relationships” (p. 8). Based on the studies she reviewed, Madden argued that pedagogy for decolonizing does not directly draw on Indigenous modes of teaching. However, this pathway creates space for Indigenous knowledges and perspectives through the historical examination of colonization and the incorporation of Indigenous counternarratives.

The pathway “Indigenous and antiracist education” focuses on deconstructing problematic perceptions of racialized and Indigenous peoples. Madden used the phrase “racialized and Indigenous” to gesture towards the diversity within the grouping “Indigenous”, as an Indigenous person is not necessarily racialized. Like the pedagogy of decolonizing, this pathway does not directly lead to integrating Indigenous knowledges into education, but it can provide opportunities to learn from diverse voices.

The pathway “Indigenous and placed-based education” advocates for the introduction of teachers to local places where wisdom sits. The approach aims to bring teachers into a relation with situated Indigenous knowledges, as well as with Indigenous and non-Indigenous histories and contemporary realities that emerge from the interconnected relationships formed in and through places. Teacher education often takes place outside of formal classroom contexts, and the places where knowledge sits are a form of renewing relationships between place, people and non-human beings. Elders often share teachings about place.

Learning from traditional Indigenous models of teaching promotes Indigenous knowledges. Pedagogy for decolonizing, Indigenous and antiracist education, and Indigenous and place-based education are all concerned with the central task of reshaping contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships through teacher education and, as such, are not only for Sámi or Indigenous teacher-students. Pedagogical pathways are understood as structures that guide the limitations and capabilities of pedagogy, and they often meet. Unlike Madden, I do not see a need for a division between the pathways, learning from traditional Indigenous models of teaching and Indigenous and place-based education, as traditional Sámi modes of teaching are closely connected to land (Sara, 2004), and also part of a general Indigenous people’s land-centred philosophies (Styles, 2017). Educators are involved in the double task of modelling what it might mean to engage with Indigenous education and prepare teachers to carry out similar work in schools (Madden, 2015).

4.3 Method and Material

The method used in the present study combines content analyses and a narrative approach inspired by Guttorm (2020). Content analysis is a research tool used to determine the presence of certain words, themes, or concepts within a given context, in this case in the official documents for teacher education programmes in Norway and programme syllabi for Sámi primary teacher education, Years 1–7, at Sámi University of Applied Sciences; the programme syllabus for Sámi primary teacher education, Years 5–10, at Sámi University of Applied Sciences; and the subject syllabi in education and Sámi language. The official documents were regulations for Sámi teacher education, Years 1–7 (Ministry of Education and Research, 2016a); guidelines for Sámi teacher education, Years 1–7 (UHR, 2017); the Norwegian national regulations for teacher education, Years 1–7 (Ministry of Education and Research, 2016b); and the Norwegian national guidelines for teacher education, Years 1–7 (UHR, 2016).

Because Sámi teacher-education in Norway has been developed based on the Norwegian national regulations and guidelines, I first compared them with the regulations and guidelines, focusing on explicitly Sámi content. Both regulations and guidelines named Sámi-specific themes, but specific Sámi content was added. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary themes in the guidelines are laid out differently in the Sámi and Norwegian national guidelines. The national guidelines include the interdisciplinary theme “Sámi conditions and Sámi pupils’ rights”. In the Sámi guidelines, there is no corresponding theme; instead, all subjects are required to be taught on the basis of Sámi teaching contents and perspectives. Distance and online teaching is included as specific interdisciplinary theme in the Sámi teacher education guidelines. In the teacher education guidelines the subjects in the Sámi version follows the national without any changes, with the exception that special guidelines were developed for the Sámi language and duodji, or craft, subjects. To delimit the data amount with three level of curricula; regulations, guidelines, and syllabi at the institutional level, I chose not to look any closer at the subject guidelines.

After that, I explored specifically how Sámi content was visible in the programme syllabi in order to discuss the core elements in Sámi teacher education regarding approaches to Indigenous higher education. As an analytical tool, I have applied the model of Madden’s (2015) four pedagogical pathways in Indigenous teacher education. Inspired by Guttorm (2020), I used a narrative approach in order to use my experiences from Sámi teacher education. Like Guttorm, I see value in using my own experiences in the investigation of cornerstones in Sámi teacher education, with the caveat that the way we experience and understand our stories can be different from how others would tell their stories.

4.4 Sámi Teacher Education

All teacher education programmes in Norway are, according to the regulations, required to qualify student teachers to teach Sámi subjects, including the status of Indigenous peoples internationally and Sámi pupils’ right to education in accordance with the Education Act and current curricula. In the guideline for Sámi teacher education, this includes pupils’ involvement, as well as school–home collaboration.

One of the mandated teaching outcomes highlights that all teacher education programmes must ensure that student teachers are able to strengthen international and multicultural perspectives in school and contribute to understanding the Sami people’s status as Indigenous peoples. All teacher education programmes are also required to include Sámi topics in the programme syllabi.

Sámi teacher education programmes’ regulations and guidelines highlight that the Sámi language must be used as a teaching language, with special dispensations given for Lule and South Sámi teacher education programmes. The purpose of Sámi teacher education, according to the regulations and guidelines, is for teaching to:

  • be given on the basis of Sámi culture and society and culture-based educational perspectives;

  • provide knowledge about Sámi conditions;

  • emphasize extended learning arenas and nature as an important places for education;

  • place the teaching profession in a Sámi and Indigenous context, or in a variety of Sámi and Indigenous contexts, where traditional knowledge is included.

Furthermore, teaching is required to:

  • be built on research- and experience-based knowledge, as for example knowledge connected to Sámi livelihood experiences and the use of nature;

  • meet the needs of Sámi schools, so that teaching institutions must offer a variety of subjects by themselves or in collaboration with other institutions, and if student teachers take subjects at other institutions, the Sámi teacher education institution must facilitate the student teachers’ achievement of Sámi competence in those subjects.

The Sámi language, Sámi teaching contents and cultural-based teaching perspectives central parts of Sámi teacher education programmes’ regulations and guidelines.

4.4.1 Language

According to the Sámi teacher education programme syllabus for Years 1–7 at Sámi University of Applied Sciences, the Sámi language is the main teaching language, although some teaching can take place in other Scandinavian languages, Finnish or English. Language is a common word. For example, North Sámi words for language in different combinations and forms, such as “-giella-”, “-giela-or-gilli-”, are named 59 times in the programme syllabus. The most frequent way words for language are used is in connection to the Sámi language. They are also used in connection to other languages, such as Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and English, and as Scandinavian languages and national languages. In this context language words are used to describe teaching languages, names of courses in the program, and learning outcomes. In the guidelines for Sámi teacher education, language terms are used in connection to Sámi and Norwegian, and in connection to national languages for students who speak Swedish and Finnish.

Furthermore, language is used in the regulations in connection to bilingual and multilingual language contexts. In the syllabus, it is multilingual, language arenas or language use, as in the following: “…multicultural and -lingual surroundings” […máŋggakultuvrralaš ja -gielalaš birrasat] (Sámi allaskuvla, 2020a, p. 4) and “…manage professional language use” […hálddaša ámmátlaš giellageavaheami] (Sámi allaskuvla, 2020a, p. 4). In the Sámi language syllabi, concepts such as “bi- and multilingual”, “minority and majority languages”, ‘first and second language” and “foreign language” are used.

4.4.2 Teaching Content, Teaching Perspective and Teaching Context

Sámi teacher education regulation includes Sámi learning outcome as

  • Sámi traditions within each subject area,

  • the use of nature and local environments as learning arenas,

  • adapting teaching on the basis of Sámi culture-based learning methods.

According to the guidelines for Sámi teacher education program, teaching must contain knowledge connected to Sámi livelihood experiences and the use of nature. The teaching institutions must teach subjects that correspond to the needs of the Sámi schools. Furthermore, the institutions must provide student teachers with opportunities to take subjects at other institutions and ensure that student teachers achieve Sámi language competence in these subjects.

In the programme syllabus for Years 1–7 at Sámi University of Applied Sciences, “duodji,Footnote 3 yoik,Footnote 4 storytelling, and communication with the land shall be implemented in themes in teaching” [duodji, juoigan ja muitaleapmi ja gulahallan eatnamiin čadnojuvvojit oahpu oktasaš fáddáoahpahussii] (Sámi allaskuvla, 2020a, p. 2). Student teachers must also know Sámi traditions and be able to implement them in school activities and teaching.

The second most common term in the syllabus for Years 1–7 at Sámi University of Applied Sciences, after “language”, is “Sámi”. It is used 57 times, the most common way being in connection to the name of the institution, the program, and courses in the programme. Otherwise, it is used in the following settings: education, culture-based learning and teaching approaches, traditional upbringing, traditions, and pedagogy. It is used in as for example “…sámi árbevieruid ja mo daid sáhttá fievrridit skuvladoaimmaide ja oahppamii” [...Sámi traditions and how to adopt them to activities in school and to learning] (Sámi allaskuvla, 2020a, p. 4). The concept of “searvelatnja” is used in the program syllabi at Sámi University of Applied Sciences as a teaching goal for student teachers so that they are able to create a common collaboration arena in connection with their local work and cultural life. The concept is also used as a teaching method. In the Sámi teacher education programme syllabi for Years 5–10, it is expressed as follows:

Build searvelanjaid, collaboration between the subjects, interdisciplinary cooperation and experience-based learning on the basis of Sámi holistic perspectives. Central to Sámi philosophy are communication and nature management. [Searvelanjaid huksen, fágaid ovttasbargu, fágaid rasttildeapmi ilbmanemiid vuođul ja vásáhusoahppan leat oahpu lágideami vuolggasadjin sámi holisttalaš oaidninvuogi vuođul. Sámi eallinvugiid guovddážis lea gulahallan ja birgen luondduin] (Sámi allaskuvla, 2020b, p. 7).

Teaching institutions must, according to the regulations, ensure that student teachers have the opportunity to take part in education on the basis of national, pan-Sámi and Indigenous perspectives. In the guideline, the national perspective refers to a Nordic perspective, as the student teachers come from Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The guideline also highlights that teacher education programs must frame the teaching profession in a Pan-Sámi and Indigenous context. In the programme syllabi at Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Miehtasámi, or Pan-Sámi, perspectives and a diverse society must be used as fundaments of the teaching. Student teachers must also acquire knowledge in Indigenous issues and have the opportunity to critically discuss cultural relations.

The Sámi teacher education guideline highlight that the student teachers’ practicums must be implemented in Sámi schools, defined as any school, class or group with teaching in and on the Sámi language. Furthermore, at least one practicum must be in a Sámi school in Sweden or Finland. Sámi teacher education at Sámi University of Applied Sciences has a long experience of sending student teachers to practicum in Sweden and Finland. Student teachers conduct practicums in Norway, Sweden or Finland. Students from Norway conduct practicums in Sweden or Finland, and Swedish and Finnish students in one of the other two countries. Furthermore, praxis holds that all students conduct practicum in school near where they live, and in schools in areas where the Sámi language is stronger and in schools in areas where the Sámi language is weaker.

4.4.3 The Sámi School Arena

Hirvonen (2004) evaluated how the first Sámi curriculum reform was implemented in Sámi schools in Norway. Teachers claimed that Sámi pupils learned best through practical work outside the school. Teaching perspectives that gave room for freedom, independence, closeness to the outdoor environment, storytelling and knowledge of local communities were identified as central. Hirvonen and Keskitalo (2004) compared the first Sámi curriculum reform to an incomplete symphony, as the schools lacked the cultural and linguistic skills to realize the Sámi curriculum. Hirvonen (2004) highlighted that Sámi schools needed measures to make Sámi culture and language the starting point of all activities. Sámi values and perspectives could then be part of everyday practices and school subjects. Sámi as a second language education could even support the revitalization of the language as long as Sámi was not just a subject but also a tool used in other subjects, with the aim of bilingualism (Todal, 2004).

Based on research by Hirvonen (2004), Jannok Nutti (2010) carried out research in Sámi schools in the Swedish part of Sápmi. The teachers there expressed views on learning approaches based on Sámi culture similar to those in Hirvonen (2004). The need for culture-based teaching was justified by the teachers with the idea that the home would become part of the school and would give Sámi pupils the opportunity to learn based on their own language and culture (Jannok Nutti, 2010). Furthermore, culture-based teaching could also give pupils the opportunity to be immersed in knowledge based on Sámi culture. However, teachers felt that they had neither the knowledge nor the time to develop culture-based teaching. Some of the teachers even expressed doubts that culture-based teaching could help pupils become successful, and the tension between Sámi and national goals were visible.

4.5 Pedagogical Pathways in Sámi Teacher Education

Are Madden’s (2015) pathways visible in Sámi teacher education? Traditions, traditional knowledge and traditional models of teaching that are central to the pedagogical pathway “learning from Indigenous traditional modes of teaching” are, together with language, the cornerstone in Sámi teacher education. These cornerstones are visible from regulations to guidelines. The programme syllabi at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, and the step “luohkkálanjas várrečohkkii” in itself can be interpreted to belong in that pedagogical pathway. Madden warned about the risk of romanticizing and depoliticizing Indigenous knowledges, but one should not, as Hall (1997) stressed, underestimate the importance of groups’ ability to highlight previously invisible experiences.

Sámi teacher education could also be viewed in connection to the pathway “Indigenous and placed-based education”. In this pathway, the relationship between land, people and non-human beings needs to be taking into account. In the programme syllabi, this visibility was stressed through gulahallan eatnamiin [communication with the land]. This relation is central in course literature. For example, in the education syllabi, Jannok Nutti and Joks (2018) examined an early childhood centre’s participation in a reindeer herding activity in light of Ingold’s work (Ingold, 2011), which argued that people take in the place and local phenomena simultaneously as the place is embodied through both our movements and commitments. During reindeer herding activity, the educators were devoted to making sure that each child had positive experiences at the calf-marking place (Jannok Nutti & Joks, 2018). Key components of a positive experience were being present and receptive, as well as making interactions between the children, educators, reindeer herder, reindeer and the place possible.

The pathways “learning from Indigenous traditional modes of teaching” and “Indigenous and place-based education” are essential parts of Sámi teacher education. As Madden (2015) stated, they do not directly imply the exploration of colonial power relations. The pathway “pedagogy for decolonizing” creates space for Indigenous perspectives through the historical examination of colonization and incorporation of Indigenous counternarratives (Madden, 2015). The term “colonial” is not used in the Norwegian regulations, nor in the guidelines for Sámi teacher education. Neither is it explicitly used in the programme syllabi, but even if the term is not present in the programme syllabi, colonialism is indirectly visible. For example, one of the learning outcomes in the first subject syllabi for education is that the student teachers must acquire an understanding of Sámi schools’ history. Sámi education is coloured by colonialization, as Keskitalo et al. (2013) showed, and student teachers are involved in the historical examination of the colonization of Sámi narratives in, for example, boarding schools. The history of boarding schools is part of the Sámi experience of colonialism. In boarding schools, children were taught Western values and ways of life, and in a sense, the Sámi were prevented from acquiring cultural knowledge (Kuokkanen, 2000). Furthermore, decolonisation is part of the educators’ work to transform and implement traditional knowledge and culture-based teaching perspectives (see, for example, Jannok Nutti, 2018a) and in Sámi educators’ work to deconstruct culture, history and Indigenous identity (see, for example, Jannok Nutti, 2018b). The pathway “Indigenous and antiracist education”, with a focus on deconstructing problematic perceptions of racialized and Indigenous peoples and groups (Madden, 2015), is less visible in teacher education. When I reflect over my own academic work, I notice that I have written just one article (Jannok Nutti, 2020) where I explicitly wrote about racism and actions to prevent racism. The article is a result of my frustration with the deliberation of a report that stressed that Sámi still face discrimination from the majority society (Poggats, 2018). I see a need to explicitly include both colonial and decolonial racism and antiracism concepts in the programme syllabi to raise awareness of that fact that Sámi have faced, and still face, discrimination, and also explore power relations.

Madden’s (2015) pathways are visible in Sámi teacher education, some more than other, and the approaches can help to continue to develop the education. However, to visualise the cornerstones in Sámi teacher education I will use the metaphor of the lávvu and three caggi, or poles, to emphasize the central parts of Sámi teacher education.

4.6 Caggit in Sámi Teacher Education Lávvu

In the lávvu metaphor, the lávvu of Sámi teacher education are set up on the land of the Sámization and Indigenization process of Sámi University of Applied Sciences. It is an on-going process, as there is still a need to continue developing research-based knowledge for teaching in Sámi teacher education, expand the contemporary Sámi culture-based teaching and learning arenas, raise awareness and Indigenize education. Raising awareness can imply the historical examination of the colonization of Indigenous counternarratives and can provide opportunities to learn from diverse voices. On this land stand the Sámi teacher education’s lávvu and its three caggi. Teaching at an institution is about goal-oriented processes where students, through systematic teaching and training, develop and acquire knowledge. The central questions to take into account are what we should teach (i.e., the content and goals of teaching), why we should choose this content and not something else, and how students can be motivated to learn this particular content. The central contents in the steering documents are the Sámi language and knowledge, teaching and learning perspectives based on Sámi culture. Why we should learn this content and how the student should be motivated to learn it is connected to Sámi teachers’ future work in contemporary society. Keskitalo et al. (2013) emphasized that.

Sámi education means education that focuses on Sámi-speaking teaching of the Sámi language and culture. It is worth distinguishing Sámi speaking teaching from the teaching of the Sámi language. The special features of Sámi pedagogy are intertwined with the paradigmatic changes of teaching that aim at squaring the learning environment and the learner’s role with the Sámi culture (p. 96).

I choose to assemble the Sámi teacher education’s caggit around the theme of Sámi language, árbediehtu,Footnote 5 and girjás searvelatnja.Footnote 6 Young Sámi consider Sámi language skills to be very important to being identified as Sámi (Nystad, 2016), and Sámi languages can connect Sámi together. On the other hand, low Sámi language skills can lead to perceived exclusion from the Sámi community. This perceived exclusion can lead to a lack of belonging and support, and can further lead to reactions such as diminished wellbeing among Sámi with low Sámi language skills (Nystad et al., 2017). Therefore, the Sámi language seems to have both an inclusive and exclusive property. Sámi youth in Sámi majority areas are socialized early into traditional Sámi values and into being actively involved in cultural practices, both of which strengthen youths’ self-confidence and affiliation with their community (Nystad, 2016). On that basis, Sámi language knowledge and cultural knowledge are central to Sámi teacher education so that student teachers can learn how to support future pupils’ learning. Árbediehtu involves both the traditional Sámi knowledge and passing that knowledge from one generation to another. However, we live in a contemporary society where Pan-Sámi perspectives should be taken into account.

4.6.1 Sámi Language

The teaching language in Sámi teacher education at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences is North Sámi. It is the main language of teaching, and all subjects in teacher education are given mainly in North Sámi. Student teachers who attend the Sámi teacher education programmes mainly speak North Sámi, but there have been students that were Lule or South Sámi speakers at Sámi University of Applied Sciences. If students speak another Sámi language, they write and take language-teaching courses in their Sámi language. Student teachers read, write, and discuss topics in Sámi. In this way, students learn both the subject knowledge and develop their Sámi language at the same time.

Outakoski (2021) underlined the importance of participating in a Sámi academic landscape:

It was a joy for my heart to be able to discuss things in my mother tongue, sámegiella (North Sámi spelling). From the more casual talk we went on to discuss our personal goals for the retreat. In my Swedish academic landscape, there are only one or two people who know my language, and most academic discussions are in Swedish or in English, both foreign languages to me. This time we could continue talking in Sámi, although we were now discussing research and academia (Outakoski, 2021, p. 86).

Outakoski (2015) noted the risk of Sámi youth losing their language due to exposure to teaching in the majority language and the lack of adequate teaching material, popular culture and media content in Sámi languages. Belancic and Lindgren (2017) discussed in what contexts pupils in Sámi schools, according to the syllabi, are expected to use Sámi and Swedish, and they found that there was a major discrepancy between the presentation of the two languages in the syllabi. The Sámi syllabi were less balanced in terms of oracy and literacy and focused less on metacognitive knowledge and genre than the Swedish syllabi. This situation does not give pupils the same opportunity to participate as democratic citizens in all aspects of the Sámi and Swedish society, nor develop their identities as multilingual, multicultural and Indigenous individuals. They also highlighted the role of language revitalisation and the need for expansion of the domains of Sámi language use.

4.6.2 Sámi Árbediehtu

Sámi teacher education programmes are founded on traditional Sámi knowledge, livelihood experiences and culture-based educational views. These are visible in all steering documents. Traditional Sámi knowledge and skills, or árbediehtu, are “the collective wisdom and skills of the Sámi people used to enhance their livelihood for centuries” (Porsanger & Guttorm, 2011, p. 18). These knowledge and skills have been passed down from generation to generation, orally and through work and practical experience. Livelihood activities, such as reindeer herding, fishing, hunting, berry picking or other chores, are linked to different seasons and different places where resources were available (Sara, 2004). Árbediehtu ties the past, present, and future together (Porsanger & Guttorm, 2011).

A Sámi core value is to live in harmony with the land (Kuokkanen, 2008). Oskal (2000) used the concept reindeer luck to discuss the Sámi understanding of a worthy life. Oskal stressed that reindeer luck, versus fishing luck or dog luck, does not just come from how you treat the reindeer, although that is included. Reindeer luck is dependent on how you live your life. You should be honest, get along with others and get along with places, pastures, migration routes, calving places or anywhere that can be considered a home to the reindeer herd. Once, I went out together with student teachers and in class we had discussed the concept of reindeer luck, suitable ways to show humility and gratitude, and discussed possible practical implications for school (Jannok Nutti, 2017). Earlier, I had followed some teachers in a Sámi school out in the forest. The teachers experienced that the pupils knew how to behave: Being out does not mean that you should be noisy, you do not shout or be destructive (Jannok Nutti, 2008).

Duodji, yoik, storytelling and communication with the land must be implemented as themes in teaching. The aesthetic learning perspectives are central as a theme in the education syllabi and in the Sámi language syllabi, otherwise they have been part of subjects such as duodji or science. Still, we saw a need to strengthen the aesthetic perspectives and the extended learning arena through Sámi livelihood experiences and the use of nature. On that basis, we developed a syllabus for subject education with a focus on traditional knowledge. We became more convinced of the need to further develop and strengthen these parts when we participated in an interview with a committee. The committee was investigating aesthetic learning processes in primary and lower-secondary teacher education. The committee highlighted the need to further develop the work with aesthetic learning processes to ensure that the learning processes is holistic and integrated into teacher education, has progression and coherence, and is based on research (By et al., 2020).

4.6.3 Girjás Searvelatnja

In the programme syllabus for Years 1–7, “searvelatnja” is used to refer to ways of teaching and learning in connection to the collaborative working arena. “Searvelatnja” can be interpreted as the students’ and teacher educators’ collaborative working arena. This setting is perhaps not so different from other education programmes; however, in the programme syllabus for Years 5–10, “searvelatnja” is used in a broader setting, directly connected to Sámi perspectives. A “searvelatnja” there is a collaboration that takes place between the subjects and is also an interdisciplinary cooperation and experience-based learning arena on the basis of holistic Sámi perspectives. Furthermore, “searvelatnja” is used as an expected learning goal, where student teachers develop the competence to set up a collaboration arena with society outside teacher education. This arena could be worldwide as Sámi teacher education is placed in a global Indigenous teaching context.

A multicultural society is highlighted in official documents, and student teachers critically examine cultural relations. Keskitalo et al. (2013) stressed that the Sámi school is not a coherent concept. They showed that, at Sámi schools, there are pupils who are not only ethnic Sámi but others as well. The various ethnic backgrounds in some schools may have caused uncertainty about how a multicultural school could be achieved. Furthermore, the fast changes in society resulted in schools needing to renew their practices constantly. In connection to Aikio (2003), Keskitalo et al. concluded that making Sámi schools multicultural requires the realization of cultural and linguistic equality and changing the power relations so that Sámi have more power to determine their own educational curriculum.

Teaching should take place from a national and Nordic perspective. Student teachers get to conduct practica in Norway, Sweden and Finland and compare the different national curricula. The practica include not just national differences. The main goal is perhaps not even just exploring national differences. It is rather to view Miehtasámi, or Pan-Sámi, perspectives. Students get to examine how the national teaching curricula, teaching aids and teaching influence teaching in Sámi schools. But a Pan-Sámi perspective is to consider Sámi languages and cultural differences, a demanding task. For example, the amount of available teaching aids differs between the languages, and there is a knowledge imbalance between the languages. There is a need to multiply Sámi voices and knowledge and also strengthen the language revitalization perspectives.

4.7 Conclusion

Is there a Sámi teacher education or teacher education for Sámi students? I would say, there is a Sámi teacher education, as the Sámi language is used as a teaching language, and is not just thought of as a language subject. Further, as Sámi teaching content, Sámi cultural-based teaching perspectives and Pan-Sámi teaching contexts are central parts of Sámi teacher education. Still, the frame is set by Norwegian national regulations and guidelines, with Sámi content and Nordic perspectives added along with Sámi education acts within limited self-determination. By using Madden’s (2015) Indigenous approaches, it becomes apparent that some concepts are not included, and the question is, would it have been possible or wanted, to include examination of the consequences of racism or colonialism in national steering documents?