The fells are located in a culturally interesting border zone. The region has been inhabited since the Stone Age, mainly by the Sámi. As the centuries have passed, the hunters and fishers of Kemi and Tornio Regions have sought the rich hunting lands and lakes at the head waters of the region's rivers. Over time new Finnish settlements were established along the river shores. In some parts, Finns and Lapps lived separately practising their own livelihoods, in other regions they lived side by side and yet in others their cultures melted together.
Reindeer and reindeer husbandry play an important role in the National Park, as the Local Herding Co-operatives of Alakylä, Kyrö, Muonio and Näkkälä use the area as a grazing and breeding area. There are also many structures and historical sites in the National Park related to reindeer husbandry.
History of the National Park
The idea for a National Park was brought up in a report by the management committee for protected forests in 1910. The committee suggested that National Parks be established at the Pallastunturi Fells and at Pyhätunturi Fell in Pelkosenniemi. Metsähallitus, then, at the government's request, proposed that protected areas be separated from state-owned lands. A report was written by Professor of Botany Kaarlo Linkola, based on his 1925 trips into the field. Linkola thought that the Pallas-Ounastunturi Fells were an exceptional piece of state-owned land, which offered a true picture of Lapland in all its splendour; with magnificent fells and seemingly endless woodlands.
At the 1928 Parliamentary Days a proposal to name the Pallas-Ounastunturi Fells a protected area was approved, but the law was never ratified due to an incomplete general parcelling out of land. It took another ten years and many reports and proposals, before Finland's first National Parks were established in 1938. Pallas-Ounastunturi was one of these first two.
At the beginning of 2005 the National Park experienced vast changes, when Ylläs-Aakenus Nature Reserve was joined to the old National Park and a new one called Pallas-Ylläs National Park was established. The National Park is now double the size it used to be.
History of Outdoor Recreation
The natural features and landscape of the fells have always enchanted hikers. The Pallas-Ounastunturi region had already developed into a popular tourist resort in the 1930's. A hotel was opened on the slopes of Pallastunturi two weeks before the National Park was established. The hiking route from Pallas to Hetta was marked as early as in 1934.
Suomen Naisten liikuntaliitto (Finland's women's sports organisation) was a forerunner in winter sports. They arranged the first fell-skiing courses at Pallastunturi in the mid 1930's. The organisations recreation centre was destroyed during the war and a new one was built at Ylläs.
Most of the Finnish dialects spoken in Lapland are of the Northern Finnish dialect group, which are also spoken in Sweden and northern Norway. The Sámi language has had a great influence on the vocabulary of these dialects.
Sámi words have been loaned for depicting nature, reindeer husbandry and northern living conditions. There have often not been suitable words in Finnish for certain phenomenon of northern nature. Many local place names in the region are of Sámi origin and have through the years changed into names that are easier for Finns pronounce. Some examples of words like these are: kaltio, kero, lompolo, mella, vuoma and vuontis.