Tibs: The article was published years ago but I didn't want it to become lost & forgotten. Probably the emailaccount of Abstract Games Magazine is not working anymore as the magazine closed down years ago. Actually after reading this article I joined Brainking to play Tablut as the game looked interesting.
Fwiffo: The article seems to suggest that the Sami invented this game. The game was invented by the Vikings. The Sami are most known for playing this version. It is possible it is the oldest version of tafl, but the game design itself is characteristically Viking.
Son of Monse: I'd be interested to read more on your findings and arguments. The only historical investigation I've done on this matter is finding the rules in Latin a few years back - but I don't know much about either the Sami culture or history, nor the Viking.
Fwiffo: Certainly! I would love to do a series of posts about this.
The Sami are a nomadic "indigenous" people who throughout history have survived in northern Scandinavia by hunting, trapping, gathering, and fishing; with elk and reindeer providing the resources for food, clothing, tools, etc. It was animal furs that primarily attracted the Viking traders (Hall, 2007). The Sami are quite peaceful and humble, and it may be because of this their relationship with the Vikings was one of “mutual toleration” (Hall, 2007). In many areas, the Sami paid “tribute” (taxes) to Viking chieftains (and merchants, most notably the famous Viking merchant Ottar) and would do so without resistance. The taxes were primarily in the form of hides, feathers, whalebone, and rope made of whaleskin and sealskin (Ferguson, 2009).
The Vikings, however, are a complete contrast to the Sami. It goes without saying their very name is synonymous with war, violence, bloodshed, and raiding. One only needs to look at their gods (particularly Odin, Thor, and Tyr) to see what war meant to them. War was glorified in every aspect of their lives, including song and poetry (and their games). Viking life revolved around the war-band which consisted of a self-styled “king” and his men (Clements, 2005).
Tablut is a game that is the playing out of a battle or war. In my opinion, this type of game does not depict the Sami at all. It is the Vikings who were obsessed with violence and war, not the Sami. So while I see friendly play between Sami and Viking (both lovers of games), I do not see the Sami inventing this game of war.
Sources: Hall, Richard. The World of the Vikings. Thames & Hudson, 2007. Page 32. Ferguson, Robert. The Vikings. Penguin Books. 2009. Page 152. Clements, Jonathan. The Vikings. Running Press. 2005. Page 52.