While Karasjok has made concessions to Norwegian culture, Kautokeino, the traditional winter base of the reindeer Sami (as opposed to their coastal kin), remains more emphatically Sami; some 85% of the townspeople have Sami as their first language and you may see a few nontourist-industry locals in traditional costume. The kommune, or municipality, is Norway's largest, covering nearly 10,000 sq km. That's an awful lot of forest and lake. The town is, frankly, dull in summer since so many of its people are up and away with the reindeer in their warm-weather pastures (in winter, by contrast, around 100,000 reindeer live hereabouts). What makes a visit well worthwhile is Juhls' Silver Gallery, just out of town and a magnificent example of the best of Scandinavian jewellery design.
From as early as 1553, during the gradual transition between nomadic and sedentary lifestyles, records reveal evidence of permanent settlement. Christianity took hold early and the first church was built in 1641.