Some shelters and traps of the Saami people of Lapland

When I was in Lapland in September, I had occasion to visit the Siida Saami Museum in Inari, Finland. This museum has lots of great information and exhibits on Saami culture, technology and history. This post focuses on the outside, open-air portion of the museum, which features a variety of shelters, traps and other structures of the indigenous people of Lapland. I was really impressed by the ingenuity and creativity of the people who made them. I only had a few rainy minutes to run through this part of the museum and take as many pictures as I could before it closed!

Lavvu tent frame

Lavvu with cover and fire ring in center


“Fabric goahti” frame inside museum

Fabric goahti with cover

Wooden lavvu

Inside wooden lavvu

Cauldron inside wooden lavvu

“Peat goahti”

Back of peat goahti

Not sure if this is another type of peat goahti or if it has a different name



Lapland-style cabin

Sawing rig (for ripping boards?)

Raised platform for hay (and animal pen below?)


Elevated storage shed

Gold-mining sluice

Small-mammal trap

Fox trap

Reindeer pit trap

Another trap (wolverine?)

Bear trap

Hope you enjoyed this look at some Saami handiwork!


14 comments on “Some shelters and traps of the Saami people of Lapland

  1. Ron says:

    Very interesting! Very interesting indeed.

  2. Joseph says:

    Just started following your blog, and what a timely post! I’m an anthropology enthusiast and bushcraft hobbyist so this post is right up my alley. The peat goahti contains such intuitive genius in the design. Wooden but utilizing the abundantly available soil and fauna for warmth, protection, support, and camouflage. A beautiful marriage of a cabin, a cob home, and a hobbit hole. I have seen elevated storage sheds using four legs but haven’t seen a shed built on one leg. I’m a little confused as to how they are securing the shed to the log but it looks like it would deter predators better than a shed on stilts. I had never seen a pit trap before! I just may end up using that reindeer pit trap.

    • Thanks for the comment, and for following, Joseph! The primitive traps must have been pretty successful, and I imagine they provided a lot of the Saami’s meat before they switched from hunting/trapping to reindeer herding. I’m also into both anthropology and bushcraft, so I enjoy things like this as well. 🙂

  3. Ron says:

    You don’t happen to have more in depth and detailed pictures?
    Might make a very interesting post elsewhere. 😉

    • I couldn’t take more in-depth and detailed pictures because I had to race through the open-air part before the museum closed. 😦

      I have a feeling you’ll see this posted “somewhere else” shortly. 😉

  4. Charlie says:

    We call the elevated storage shed a “high cache” in Alaska… Same idea, just a different name.

    Interesting to see that it was made from logs that appear to be cut by a saw, meaning that metal was available to construct it. Why no metal then around the pole??? We cut up old metal coffee cans and wrap the poles here. A metal “band” around the poles about half way up the pole and around two feet in height is enough to keep animals that can climb like squirrels and porcupine from being able to get their claws into the wood, thus securing the cache even more. Is this something that was intentionally or unitentionally omitted by the person who constructed this exhibit? I mean wouldn’t the museum want to be factually correct in their exhibit or are the problems with climbing animals in this area insignificant??? I’m not trying to discredit the museum, I’m just curious… I only mention this because I did my archaeological thesis on Athabaskan structures and through my research I discovered that even the oldest references to elevated storage or high caches mentioned metal “barriers” to prevent climbing animals… It just seems odd to me that since this is done here, that it would not be done there since because Alaska and Finland are so much alike in latitude and therefore terrain and wildlife.

    • Thanks for the comments, Charlie! I have never seen any old pictures or illustrations with metal around the pole of Saami structures like these, so I would guess that they didn’t do it. Maybe sheet metal wasn’t readily available/cheap in the old (and very old) days, or maybe there just wasn’t a need for such a barrier (I don’t believe there are any porcupines in Finland, and the small red squirrels are few and far between). I’m sure somebody knows the answer!

  5. Gary says:

    really enjoyed that – thanks

  6. BelgianBirkebeiner says:

    Wow, never seen something like that fox-trap before… What is the intention? Baiting so the fox will jump or climb onto the pole, getting stuck in between the fork in the process?

    cool post!

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