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Dolgan in the Russian Federation

  • Profile

    According to the 2010 national census, there are 7,885 Dolgan in the Russian Federation. Dolgan are a Turkic people of Tungusic origin. They speak a dialect of the Sakha language and are being assimilated by Sakha, but still retain a separate identity. They live in the Taimyr (Dolgano-Nenets) Autonomus Okrug. There are some Christian additions to their shamanist-animist religion.

    Historical context

    The Dolgan emerged as a separate community in the eighteenth century as a result of migration movements induced by Russian influence in the region. They are descended from Evenk migrants into the Taimyr peninsula who adopted the Sakha language and displaced the original Nganasan inhabitants. The traditional Dolgan economy was based on nomadic reindeer herding. The Taimyr peninsula is one of the least known areas in Russia, yet its mineral, oil and gas reserves are thought to be considerable. At present industrial production in the region is incipient and commercially unprofitable.

    Current issues

    In 2005 the populations of the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug (AOk), the Evenk AOk and Krasnoyarsk Krai, voted in favour of the unification of the three regions in a referendum. The unification took place in January 2007.

    In October 2013, deputies of the State Assembly of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) met their colleagues from the Taimyr Dolgan-Nenets region.  The meeting was devoted to the preservation of the traditions and culture of the peoples of the north, as well as to cooperation between Dolgan in the Sakha Republic and Krasnoyarsk Krai. Elena Glomareva, the people’s deputy of the Republic of Sakha, expressed her concerns about the lack of teaching materials in the Dolgan language. The group called for an increase in the availability of newspapers, books and other publications in the native language, as well as the teaching of Dolgan at schools.

    In September 2014, negotiations between the Dolgan minority and representatives of the Surgutneftegas company took place in the village of Dubinka. The locals expressed concern about the company’s plans to build two large structures for mining purposes, opposing their construction as a threat to the deer who migrate through the area. Moreover, the Dolgan representatives expressed their community’s fear of losing its traditional hunting and fishing grounds.

    Updated December 2020

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