The topic of this paper concerns the variable essentialist and constructivist perceptions of Saami identity as reflected in the criteria specified by the Swedish state on the one hand and the notions of those who self-identify as Saami on the other. Hence, it deals heavily in the comparison of state as opposed to Saami formal definitions of "Saami", but it is the general principles and the dilemmas highlighted in these definitions that are under scrutiny here. Although this paper focuses predominantly on the taxonomies of various criteria of ethnicity, it does so in an effort to make these open to changeable, relational content. Just what characterizes Saami relational content or what different content might be emphasized by different Saami groups is not the primary focus here. This heuristic discussion is aimed not to consider the replacement of rights inherited through individual descent lines as per the original conception of immemorial right. Rather it is to chart a possible ''phase-in'' course by which cultural competency can come in time to warrant rights accorded to members of a collective ethnic ancestry.