Voices From Russia, Too

Thursday, 14 July 2011

14 July 2011. A Multimedia Presentation. Here’s Russia… Meet the Khakas!

Editor’s Foreword:

As I posted a photo essay on a Khakasian holiday below, I thought that you’d like some background on this Siberian Native people. I’ll give you some images, and, then, I’ll give you some info on these indigenous folks and their homeland after the pics.

BMD

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NB: The music doesn’t start until 40 seconds into the vid, it sounds much like Andean flute music.

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The Republic of Khakasiya is in central Siberia, midway between Moscow and Vladivostok. Administratively, it’s part of the Siberian Federal Distrct, with a total land area of 65,659 square kilometres (25,345 square miles); Khakasiya’s a bit larger than the size of the American state of West Virginia, about the same size as Lithuania (that is, a little over twice the size of the Netherlands), or, if one prefers, it’s 80 percent the size of Scotland. Of its population of 532,000, 286,000 (54 percent) live in its three largest cities, Abakan (the capital, with 163,000 inhabitants), Chernogorsk (75,000), and Sayanogorsk (48,000). The population density is 8.65 people/square kilometre (21/square mile). 75 percent of the 80,000 Khakas living in Russia reside in the Republic of Khakasiya, but the 60,000 Native people in the Republic make up only 12 percent of the population (82 percent are Russian, 1.5 percent are German, 1 percent are Tatar). By the way, Alaska has a somewhat similar proportion of Native people, having 15 percent Natives amongst its total population (although Russians better accept the Khakas as equals than Alaska Natives are by Anglo-Saxon Nativists). In Russian parlance, a “Republic” is an area of concentrated settlement of a non-Russian indigenous people (such as Chechnya and Tatarstan), even if the Natives aren’t a majority of the population. Its climate is just about the same as in Krasnoyarsk, very cold dry winters coupled with warm humid summers. The average high temperature in January is -11.3 degrees (11.7 Fahrenheit), the average high in August is 21.5 (70.7 Fahrenheit), with average lows in January (the coldest month) reaching -19.4 (-2.9 Fahrenheit).

Khakasiya is the largest per-capita producer of hydropower in the RF, and it has thermal generation plants as well. Its industry is based on molybdenum, copper, and coal mining, aluminium production, agricultural processing, and railway wagon manufacturing (5 percent of all goods wagons made in the RF are made in Abakan). The South Siberian Railway connects Abakan to the Trans-Siberian Main Line at Krasnoyarsk. Pastures and hayfields occupy large areas, which give a large grazing area for livestock such as sheep, dairy cattle, and horses. The main crops grown are wheat, barley, oats, millet, sunflowers, and sugar beets. Khakasiya is a net exporter of agricultural goods, despite having only about 20 percent of its land suitable for any form of agriculture.

During the 19th century, many Khakas accepted Russian ways, and most converted to Orthodox Christianity. Shamanism with Buddhist influences, however, is still common, and many Christians practise Shamanism alongside Christianity. In Tsarist Russia, the Khakas were known as Minusinsk Tatars, Abakan Tatars, or Yenisei Turks. The Khakas always show great deference to their elders, they give titles of respect to all those older than they are; older men are always known as “abaa” (“Uncle”), and older women are called “piche” (“Older Sister”).

BMD

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