The building of a Sámi Cultural Centre in Finnish Lapland has been on the political agenda since the 1970s. The new Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos provides a focus for Sámi culture in Finnish Lapland. Among other functions, the new Sámi Cultural Centre will provide a permanent home for the Sámi Parliament of Finland, which, until now, has met in a variety of buildings. The new centre also hosts the Parliament’s secretariat as well facilities for the hosting of concerts, theatrical performances, films, meetings, conferences, exhibitions and fairs. The new EUR 14.9 million multi-functional building also houses the Sámi Education Institute, a library and archive dedicated to Sámi culture, the Lapland Regional State Administrative Agency and the Sámi Association for Health and Social Issues, and the Inari Sámi Language Association.
The main purpose of the centre is to help preserve, promote and develop Sámi culture, language and business activities as well as to manage Sámi cultural self-government and improve the living conditions of the Sámi indigenous people. The new centre will be instrumental in communicating information about the Sámi people to the outside world, and, it is hoped, will attract national and international interest for its multicultural goals. The centre was built on the banks of the river Juutuanjoki in the Sámi village of Inari, which is considered a major centre for the Sámi people in Finland. Although the main purpose of the centre is to promote Sámi culture and to bring Sámi people from different regions together, it is also expected that other people in Lapland, language students, culture operators, tourists, event visitors and organisers will also benefit from the facility.
The construction phase of the cultural centre created around 70 jobs and 10 new jobs have been created since the opening of the building. About 50 people currently work in the centre. A name-giving competition for the centre increased awareness of the project and helped to increase community involvement and interest in the project. The “Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos” project had a total eligible budget of EUR 4,3 million of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 2,2 million through the 'Northern Finland' Operational Programme.