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The Khakas, or Khakass (Khakas: Тадарлар), are a Turkic people, who live in Russia, in the republic of Khakassia in southern Siberia. They speak the Khakas language.
The origin of the Khakas people is disputed. Some scholars see them as descendants of the Yenisei Kirghiz, while others believe that, at the behest of the medieval Mongol Khans, the Yenisei Kirghiz migrated to Central Asia.
In the 17th century, the Khakas formed Khakassia in the middle of the lands of Yenisei Kirghiz, who at the time were vassals of a Mongolian ruler. The Russians arrived shortly after the Kirghiz left, and an inflow of Russian agragian settlers began. In the 1820s, gold mines started to be developed around Minusinsk, which became a regional industrial center.
During the 19th century, many Khakas accepted the Russian ways of life, and most were converted en masse to Russian Orthodox Christianity under threat of death by Russian soldiers. Shamanism with Buddhist influences, however, is still common, and many Christians practice Shamanism with Christianity. In Imperial Russia, the Khakas used to be known under other names, used mostly in historic contexts: Minusinsk Tatars (Russian: минуси́нские тата́ры), Abakan Tatars (абака́нские тата́ры), and Yenisei Turks.
During the Revolution of 1905, a movement towards autonomy developed. When Soviets came to power in 1923, the Khakas National District was established, and various ethnic groups (Beltir, Sagai, Kachin, Koibal, and Kyzyl) were artificially "combined" into one—the Khakas. The National District was reorganized into Khakas Autonomous Oblast, a part of Krasnoyarsk Krai, in 1930. The republic of Khakassia in its present form was established in 1992.
The Khakas people account for only about 12% of the total population of the republic (78,500 as of 1989 Census). The Khakas people traditionally practiced nomadic herding, agriculture, hunting, and fishing. The Beltir people specialized in handicraft as well. Herding sheep and cattle is still common, although the republic became more industrialized over time.