Tromsø expert mascot Rijá

Rijá is wearing traditional Sami clothes from Ullsfjord. His gakti (jacket) is grey with red and green ribbons and a wide belt. The trousers are made from reindeer leather and on his feet, he is wearing boots made from reindeer hide. 

Ullsfjord is located in the eastern part of Tromsø. Sami people have lived there for a long time. In the past they went fishing and hunting and had smallholding farms with a few animals like sheep or cows. You can see old Sami clothes from Ullsfjord at the Arctic University Museum of Norway.

Reindeer-herding Sami also lived in Tromsø. They came from Sweden in the springtime, bringing their reindeer with them. These Sami used to set up a summer camp in Tromsdalen and the camp was a huge tourist attraction until the 1940s.

Until 1870, reindeer used to move across Tromsø island to get to the summer pastures on Kvaløya island. Today, you can see the reindeer featured in the Tromsø city coat-of-arms. 

Can you see the flag Rijá is waving? That’s the flag of the Sami people. It is used by all Sami regardless of which country they live in, Norway, Sweden, Finland or Russia.  

Text by Per Helge Nylund.
Illustration: idea by © Cessa Forlag, drawing by Ilze Dambe