The article describes Kvens, a little known ethnic group inhabiting northern Norway. In 1999 the group was granted the status of national minority and in 2005 the Norwegian government recognized Kvenian as a separate language. Not all the people of Finnish origin in Norway are Kvens. Generally, the name is used to denote Finnish-speaking emigrants from Finland or northern Sweden (the biggest migration wave took place in 18th - 19th centuries). Most Kvens live in Troms and Finnmark in the north. Depending on the adopted criterion, it is assumed that Norway is inhabited by 1,500 to 30,000 Kvens. Kven dialects belong to Finnish, or, more precisely, north Finnish dialects, which some scholars believe to belong to the West Finnish group and some others treat them as a separate group. The Kven culture, deriving from Finnish culture, reflects the influences that were exerted upon it in the new territory. The cultural traditions characteristic of Kvens can be found in construction, agriculture and in some practical activities, such as the use of the sauna or pitch making and also in some customs. The status of Kvens in Norway and the attitude of Norwegian authorities to this group underwent considerable changes over the centuries. Initially, Kvens were believed to be immigrants and as such they were welcomed in Norway because of their farming skills. Starting in the mid 19th century, the state tried to assimilate ethnic minorities. In the 1980s and 1990s Kven became more active in the social life of Norway - they established ethnic organizations, were often present in the media, established and supported centres to preserve or revitalize the Kven culture. In 1987 they established the Association of Norwegian Kvens.
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