Aspects of history of the Usinsk Tuvans

Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy. 2017;0(1)


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

ISSN: 2079-8482 (Online)

Publisher: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races

Country of publisher: Russian Federation

Language of fulltext: Russian

Full-text formats available: PDF



Vladimir G. Dazishen (Сибирский федеральный университет)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 18 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

In the valley of the Us river, in the borderlands between Krasnoyarskii Krai and the Republic of Tuva, lives a community of the so-called Usinsk Tuvans. The article examines the history of this sub-ethnicity as it is shown in the documents preserved at the archives of Krasnoyarskii Krai, Minusinsk, Irkutsk Oblast and the Republic of Tuva. Unlike the Tuvans living in Mongolia and China, Usinsk Tuvans have received almost no scholarly attention and have not been listed among the indigenous minorities of Krasnoyarskii Krai. It was only in the last 5 years that they have been for the first time studied by the researchers from Siberian Federal and Tuvan State Universities, with a special focus on ethnosocial and linguistic peculiarities of the Usinsk Tuvans. Two versions of how the Tuvan population arrived in the contemporary Usinsk rayon are known to exist. According to the first, the nomadic ancestors of the Tuvans roamed the Us valley, and since the 17th century, this area has witnessed the final stage of Tuvan ethnogenesis. The second version maintains that the Tuvans arrived in the area almost at the same time as the first Russian settlers. It can be suggested that the contemporary stage of settling in the Us valley began in the 18th century when Russia’s hold on the area was formalized by a treaty with China, and the Chinese empire, in its turn, set up the administrative unit of Uriankhai. In the 19th century, Russians started to actively settle in what now is known as Usinsk rayon, which led to a change in Tuvan settlement of the same territory. In the 1860s, for instance, Tuvan leaders tried to prevent Russian agricultural colonization of the area. Nevertheless, nomadic camping grounds grew smaller, and agricultural cooperation began, which made Tuvans increasingly dependent on Russian traders and farmers. However, at the turn of the 20th century the Tuvan population of the area was still small, and the tension between Russians and Tuvans grew high. When Tuva became a political protectorate of Russia in 1914, the issue of administrative status of Usinsk Tuvans came to a head. With Tuvans preserving the subjecthood of the Qing empire, their presence in the adjacent area gave rise to the territorial claims of the People’s Republic of Tuva. The issue of possible cession of Usinsk rayon to Tuva had remained urgent for several decades in early 20th century. Overall, from the Russian-Chinese border delineation in the first half of the 18th century to Tuva’s accession into the USSR in 1944, the Tuvans permanently residing in Usinsk rayon were viewed by Russian authorities as foreign subjects. They appeared in the documentation of local village councils as late as in 1950s. There have always been active migration between Usinsk rayon and the Republic of Tuva, but Usinsk Tuvans at the same time have remained ethnoculturally distinct, which was upheld by the fact of residing outside the national region and close contacts with the Russian population.