Johan Nuorgam: Sámi Squanto and cultural broker

  • Veli-Pekka Lehtola University of Oulu


The role of “Squantos” – different kinds of intermediators, cultural interpreters, or cultural brokers coming from native societies – has been important in encounters between Indigenous peoples and the outside world. The article describes a North Sámi broker, Johan Nuorgam, the founder of the Sámi museum in Inari, Finland. Due to dramatic incidents as a young man, he left his reindeer Sámi life to move to Helsinki, the Finnish capital in the beginning of 1930s. He worked as an informant for Finnish researchers, as a guide in a Finnish outdoor museum, a collector of Sámi artefacts, and an editing assistant in a North Sámi magazine. All this later made Nuorgam a pioneer in Sámi media and politics, as well as in museum management. In this article, I interrogate Nuorgam as a “Squanto”.

Author Biography

Veli-Pekka Lehtola, University of Oulu

Giellagas Institute for Saami Studies

Ph.D., Professor of Saami Cultural Studies