The University of Montana
Department of Mathematical Sciences

Technical report #4/2011

Perspectives on Sámi Mathematics Education

Anne Birgitte Fyhn, University of Tromsř, Norway

Ellen J. Sara Eira, Guovdageainnu Nuoraidskuvla- Kautokeino Ungdomsskole, Norway

Bharath Sriraman, The University of Montana


The Sámi are an indigenous people of the Arctic, and through a resolution of the United Nations, Norway is bound to take care of the Sámi culture and language. Since 1987 the Sámi have had their curriculum, but they have no mathematics syllabus. In this paper we summarize the legal acts that take care of the Sámi culture within the Norwegian educational system, and then discuss three examples of Sámi mathematics, which can be part of a possible Sámi mathematics syllabus. First, a unit of measurement is presented, second, a unique way of treating the ratios 2 : 1 and 1 : 2 is described, and finally the use of some Sámi versus Norwegian geometry terms are exposed. The three examples are situated in relation to the Yupik Eskimo Mathematics in a Cultural Context (MCC), as described by Lipka, Webster and Yanez (2005) and their contribution in this special issue of Interchange.

Keywords: beali unnit; beali eanet; indigenous issues; Mathematics in Cultural Context; multiplicative structures; Sámi measurement; Sámi; Sámi mathematics education

AMS Subject Classification: 97

Preprint of article to appear in Interchange: A Quarterly Review of Education, vol. 42 (Springer) Pdf (762 KB)