This site is connected with the course "Sami Culture, Yesterday and Today." But any and all are welcome to view this site and think about the cultural experience of snow.

birch tree with snow adhering it bark

Over the centuries, people speaking Sámi languages have developed extensive and nuanced terminology for describing snow. Although there is a basic term for snow (muohta), different aspects of snow in different circumstances warrant different terms. For example,in Lule Sámi, snow clinging to a surface, as on the birch trunk pictured above, is known as bulltje.

Snow can also be described in terms of texture and quality;

patch of snow surrounding by open ground

Distribution on the ground;

mountain showing uneven distribution of snow in patches "bievlla"

degree to which it is trodden or marked by tracks and prints;

reindeer prints in soft snow

degree to which it is easy to ski on,

path through a forest showing a ski mobile trail


and many other characteristics.

scene of snow beside open water in mountains


By clicking on any of the links above, you can learn some 28 further terms for snow types in Lule Sámi, as documented by Yngvar Ryd in his interviews with Sámi reindeer herder Johan Rassa over the course of five winters. Altogether this site thus covers 30 terms, just ten percent of the words documented in Ryd and Rassa's collaboration. Also added are a few of the many North Sámi terms identified by Nils Jernsletten in his article "Sami Traditional Terminology: Professional Terms Concerning Salmon, Reindeer and Snow" 86-108 in Harald Gaski (ed.) Sami Culture in a New Era: The Norwegian Sami Experience (Karasjok: Gavvi Girji OS, 1997).