Visit Västerbotten

Close contact with Sami culture

Sami handicrafts, weaving, paintings, yoiking, museums and guided tours. Sven-Åke and Doris Risfjell tell people all about the Sami culture in lots of different ways. Their base is their shop and gallery Risfjells Sameslöjd in Vilhelmina, which is visited every year by people from all over the world.

"We're driven by a strong passion," explains Doris Risfjell.

The first thing visitors encounter at Risfjells Sameslöjd is a Sami knife 2.5 metres tall, probably the largest in the world.
"Yep, that usually makes an impression!" laughs Sven-Åke, who's been a full-time craftsman for more than 30 years.
There are plenty of Sven-Åke's wares in the shop, which both manages and develops the South Sami tradition, and doris' weaving, leatherwork and pictures. Visitors can also buy souvenirs and reindeer leather, and in the museum/gallery they can see Sami tools such as an ackja (Sami sledge), bow and drum.

Guided Sami tours

But the Risfjells also do a fair amount outside the shop as well. They also work at their unique home; a hexagonal corn barn in Malgonäs, 20 km outside Vilhelmina.

"We usually welcome groups of people into our home, and we tailor the programme to what they want to do," says Doris. "We have 100 km views from our house, so you could say this is an inspiring environment."
The couple also do guided tours of the cultural landscape of Vilhelmina, and they often go out touring - both in Sweden and abroad - and lecture on the Lappish way of life. "There's a lot of ignorance in Sweden of the part the Lapps have played in the history of Norrland, but a lot of people are really interested in finding out more. and that goes for people internationally as well," says Doris.

Drums to a museum in the USA

Doris and Sven-Åke are often invited to various events to talk about the Sami culture. They've visited France, the Faroes and Iceland, for instance.
"We're ambassadors for our own Sami culture at such events," says Sven-Åke.
There's also a distinctly international feel to visits to the shop, too, and the orders that the Risfjells receive for their works.
"The shop is just off the e 45, so a lot of people drop in as they're passing," explains Doris. "We've had visitors from countries such as Australia, the UK and the USA. And Sven-Åke receives orders from abroad occasionally, too. He recently made two Sami drums for a music museum in Wisconsin in the USA."

Where do you like to visit during the summer in Lapland?

"Kultsjödalen, with the Sami meeting place of Fatmomakke, is beautiful and a lovely area to go walking in. Vojmådalen, which has more dramatic mountain terrain to offer, is also fantastic, with fine Sami cultural areas. Sagatun has incredible views in all directions, with exciting low mountain nature. In Åsele, the local heritage area and the long valley glacier of Stockholmsgata are worth a visit. The ancient drawings in the Lomsjö area on the way to dorotea are worth seeing, and in dorotea itself we recommend the Kullerbacken local heritage area, the Nattvarden sculpture and the milles statue in the church. Borgafjäll has great food and beautiful countryside. All the countryside in Tärna is completely magical, and in the atoklimpen cultural reserve you can see how reindeer-herding Lapps worked the land from prehistoric times to the present day."