The Sami Council was established in 1956 in Karasjokk, Norway. The Council brings together Sami organisations, irrespective of whether they are in Russia, Norway, Finland or Sweden. The goal is to work together for a number of important points:
- to safeguard the interests of the Sami as individuals and as a people
- to strengthen the Sami's sense of community
- to work to ensure that the Sami are recognised and treated as a people
- to work to ensure that the Sami's economic, social and cultural rights are ratified in the legislation of the individual countries, as part of agreements between the various countries and representative Sami bodies
The Sami Council has eight member organisations, three in Norway, two in Russia, one in Finland and two in Sweden (National Association of Swedish Sami (SSR) and Same Ätnam). The Sami Council is divided into various sections. There are four members in the Swedish section.
Conference every four years
The Sami Council's senior decision-making body is the Sami Conference. It is held every four years in different locations in Sápmi, and is attended by 65 delegates from Russia (5), Finland (20), Norway (20) and Sweden (20). The executive body in the Sami Council is called the Council. This comprises 15 members who meet at least twice a year.
A number of joint declarations have been signed at the Sami Council's conferences. At the conference in Murmansk in 1996, for example, the member organisations signed a declaration regarding increased Sami self-determination and administration within the Sami area. New regulations for the Sami Council were also adopted at the conference.
The Sami Council also issues pronouncements and proposals on matters concerning Sami businesses, rights, language and culture, as well as being a driving force in various cross-border projects, such as the establishment of a Sami radio station on the Kola Peninsula in Russia.