The Primary Chronicle names a certain tribal leader; Vyatko as the forefather of the tribe, but the modern etymology places the word as a cognate to Veneti and Vandals. The Vyatichi were mainly engaged in farming and cattle-breeding. According to Nestor the Chronicler the Vyatichi were 'Lachy' (Lechites), similar to Lendians, and used to live in areas east of the Vistula river. Due to some foreign invasion they moved to the East. Between the ninth and tenth centuries, the Vyatichi paid tribute to the Khazars and later the Kievan princes (they were conquered by Svyatoslav I of Kiev in 966). The tribe, however, was constantly trying to defend its own political independence up until the early twelfth century. By the eleventh century, the Vyatichi had already populated the Moskva basin and the area of today's Moscow. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the tribe founded a number of cities due to developing handicrafts and increasing trade, including Moscow, Koltesk, Dedoslav, Nerinsk and others. In the second half of the 12th century the land of the Vyatichi was distributed among the princes of Suzdal and Chernigov. The last direct reference to the Vyatichi was made in a chronicle under the year of 1197. Indirect references, however, may be traced to the early fourteenth century.
Saint Kuksha of the Kiev Caves was a missionary who converted many Vyatichi to Christianity (in 1115), being beheaded by their chiefs August 27 ca. 1115.
There are numerous archeological monuments in Moscow that tell historians about the Vyatichi. Their fortified settlements of the 11th century were located in the historical center of today's Moscow, namely the Borovitsky Hill, Kolomenskoye (the spot of the former Diakovskoye village), Kuntsevo (a district of Moscow) and others. One may also find traces of Vyatich settlements in Brateyevo, Zyuzino, Alyoshkino, Matveyevskoye and other localities of Moscow. Burial mounds (Kurgans) with cremated bodies have been found along the upper reaches of the Oka and Don.
Some people claim that recently discovered higher percentage of Central European Genetic Marker M458 in areas around Moscow, which cannot be traced to more recent Polish immigration is due to the Vyatichi autochtonic settlement there. There is also similar marker that shows maximum in Poland and on areas of Vyatichi and Radimichs, which was called 'Vyatichi-West'.