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Khakass in the Russian Federation

  • Profile

    According to the 2010 national census, there are 72, 959 Khakass in the Russian Federation. Khakass ethnicity is derived from a mixture of Uygur Turkic, Tuvan and other groups. The majority of Khakass live in the Khakass Republic and adjacent areas in southern Siberia.

    The Khakass religion is a mixture of shamanist-animist and Eastern Orthodox beliefs.

    Historical context

    The groups that came to form the Khakass fell under Russian domination in the seventeenth century. Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, these groups did not identify themselves by a single name. In the early twentieth century, a nationalist movement sprang up among Khakass as a reaction to Russian immigration. After the Bolshevik Revolution, in response to Khakass nationalist demands, the Soviet regime established an Autonomous Okrug (AOk) in 1925 and this became an Autonomous Oblast (AO) in 1930. The traditionally close ties to Tuvans and Altai have led nationalists to demand the restoration of the ‘historical unity’ of Khakassia, Altai and Tuva.

    Current issues

    Language shift and identity loss is a concern to many Khakass. According to a survey conducted by scholars at Khakassia State University in 2002 and published in 2005, 35 per cent of students in the republican capital Abakan were studying Khakass. Yet only 2 per cent reported using the language with their parents and 22 per cent with their grandparents, while none reported using it with their friends. As they make up a minority of the population even within Khakassia, there have been limited opportunities to mobilize for political support on these issues, though community members are reportedly experiencing a renewed interest in their language and culture.

    Updated December 2020

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