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Sakha woman.jpg
Total population
450,000 - 510,000
Regions with significant populations
 Russia 478,085 (2010 census)[1]
 United States 10,000 (2010 census)[2][not in citation given][3][not in citation given]
 Canada 8,000 (2010 census)[2][4]
 Ukraine 304 (2001 census)[2][5]
 Kazakhstan 119 (2009 census)[2][6]
Sakha, Russian
Predominantly Russian Orthodox Christianity, with a significant part of the population practicing Shamanism

Yakuts (Sakha: Саха, Sakha), are a Turkic people[7] who mainly inhabit the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic.

The Yakut or Sakha language belongs to the Siberian branch of the Turkic languages. Yakuts mainly live in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in the Russian Federation, with some extending to the Amur, Magadan, Sakhalin regions, and the Taymyr and Evenki Autonomous Districts.

The Yakuts are divided into two basic groups based on geography and economics. Yakuts in the north are historically semi-nomadic hunters, fishermen, reindeer breeders, while southern Yakuts engage in animal husbandry focusing on horses and cattle.[8]

Origin and history[edit]

Etnografic objects Nr 1, 2, 4, 5, 11, 12, 19, 20 og 29 are yakut objects.
Flag of Sakha

Yakuts originally lived around Olkhon and the region of Lake Baikal. But beginning in the 13th century they migrated to the basins of the Middle Lena, the Aldan and Vilyuy rivers under the pressure of the rising Mongols, where they mixed with other northern indigenous peoples of Russia such as the Evens and Evenks.

The northern Yakuts were largely hunters, fishermen and reindeer herders, while the southern Yakuts raised cattle and horses.

In the 1620s Russia began to move into their territory and annexed it, imposed a fur tax, and managed to suppress several Yakut rebellions between 1634 and 1642. Russian brutality in collection of the pelt tax (yasak) sparked a rebellion among the Yakuts and also Tungusic-speaking tribes along the River Lena in 1642. The voivode Peter Golovin, leader of the Russian forces, responded with a reign of terror: native settlements were torched and hundreds of people were tortured and killed. The Yakut population alone is estimated to have fallen by 70 percent between 1642 and 1682.[9]

In the 18th century the Russians reduced the pressure, to yakutsk chiefs were given some privileges, while there occurred Orthodox missions and spreading the knowledge of agriculture. The discovery of gold and, later, the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway, brought ever-increasing numbers of Russians into the region. By the 1820s almost all the Yakuts had been converted to the Russian Orthodox church, although they retained, and still retain, a number of Shamanist practices. Since the end of the 19th century arise yakut literature and in early 20th century occurred a national revival.

In 1922, the new Soviet government named the area the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The last conflict of the Russian Civil War, known as the Yakut Revolt, occurred here when Cornet Mikhail Korobeinikov, a White Russian officer, led an uprising and a last stand against the Red Army.

In the late 1920s through the late 1930s, Yakut people were systematically persecuted, when Joseph Stalin launched his collectivization campaign.[10] It's possible that hunger and malnutrition resulting from the period resulted in a decline in the Yakut total population from 240,500 in 1926 to 236,700 in 1959. By 1972, the population began to recover.Geo

Currently, Yakuts form a large plurality of the total population within the vast Sakha Republic. According to the 2010 Russian census, there were a total of 466,492 Yakuts residing in the Sakha Republic during that year, or 49.9% of the total population of the Republic.


According to the 2010 census, some 87% of the Yakuts in the Sakha Republic are fluent in the Yakut language, while 90% are fluent in Russian.[11] The Sakha/Yakut language belongs to the Northern branch of the Siberian group of Turkic languages. It is most closely related to the Dolgan language. Slightly less closely related languages include Tuvan and Shor.


Kuerchekh / Куэрчэх, a traditional Sakha dish.

The cuisine of Sakha consists predominantly of traditional drink kumis, dairy products of mare and reindeer milk, sliced frozen salted fish (strogaanina), loaf meat dishes (oyogos), venison, frozen fish, thick pancakes, and salamat - a millet porridge with butter and horse fat. Kuerchekh [Куэрчэх] or kierchekh, a popular dessert, is made of mare milk or sour cream with various berries. Indigirka is a traditional fish salad. This cuisine is only used in Yakutia.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Conolly, Violet. "The Yakuts," Problems of Communism, vol. 16, no. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1967), pp. 81-91.
  • Leontʼeva, Sargylana. "Comments on Ойуун Уол 'shaman fellow': a Yakut historical legend." In John M. Clifton and Deborah A. Clifton (eds.), Comments on discourse structures in ten Turkic languages pp. 287-291. St. Petersburg, Russia: SIL International, 2002.
  • Sakha Yakut Republic Regional Investment and Business Guide. (US Government Agencies Business Library) (3rd ed.) International Business Publications, 2001.

External links[edit]