Interactive atlas of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East: languages and cultures
Systematized scientific data on the historical, cultural, socio-anthropological and linguistic diversity of the indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East.
Interactive atlas of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East: languages and cultures is implemented on the principles of technological sovereignty and has collected unique information about the history and culture of indigenous peoples, the beauty of their traditional places of residence, national folklore and language features.

Social media

Interactive atlas of indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation: languages and cultures

Peoples and Languages
Indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East are peoples of less than 50 thousand people living in the northern regions of Russia, Siberia and the Russian Far East
The Saami (Sámi) are the indigenous people of Fennoscandia with a total number of over 80 thousand people. Traditionally, the Saami country is called Lapland (Finnish Lappi, Swedish Lappland, Norwegian Lapland) or Sápmi (Sámeednam) in the Saami language. It covers a large territory with a length of up to 2000 km and a width of up to 400 km, including the northern regions of four states: Norway, Russia, Finland, and Sweden.
The Veps are a Balto-Finnic people living between the three largest northern lakes: Lake Ladoga, Lake Onego, and Lake Beloye. Currently, this area is divided between three large adjacent regions: the Republic of Karelia, the Leningrad region, and the Vologda region. The 2010 Census put the number of the Veps at 5,936 persons. Most of them live in Karelia (3,423 persons); 1,380 Veps live in the Leningrad region, and 412 Veps live in the Vologda region (Peoples of Karelia 2019: 275).
The Nenets are an indigenous small-numbered people of the Russian North. Culture- and language-wise, the Nenets form two independent communities: the Tundra Nenets and the Forest Nenets. The Tundra Nenets live in the vast space of the Eurasian north from the Kola Peninsula in the west to the Taymyr Peninsula in the east. The Forest Nenets populate the northern tundra in the catchment area of the river Pur and the Numto mesa, from the upper reaches of the rivers Kazym, Nadym, and Pim to the upper reaches of the Agan.
The ethnonym Khanty, derived from the group’s self-name, was established in the Soviet times and identified with the name of the river Konda, (with khondikho meaning “khan’s people”). Today, linguists believe that the original Finno-Ugric root kont meant a “clan” or a “community.”
The Mansi, an indigenous trans-Urals people, inhabit the territory from the Ural Mountains and to the Ob river. Their endonym Mansi (Northern Mansi Man’shchi, Southern Mansi Men’dishchi) means “person.” Russian archival documents mention their old ethnonym Voguls (from the Komi word Vegul) as early as in the 14th century. Previously, the Mansi and other people of Northeastern Europe were called Yugra (Yogra in Komi). The name Vogul is of Komi-Zyryan origin and means “wild,” a “wild heathen person.” There is also a widespread opinion that the ethnonym “Vogul” comes from the word “Vykli,” the endonym of a nomadic tribe from the Northern Cis-Urals region.
The word “Kets” is not the original endonym. It was officially introduced and came into use only in the 1920s. As was the case for other peoples of the North, the name was based on the word “man” (ket). Before this, the Kets had been known as “Ostyaks”, “the Yenisei Ostyaks” and “the Yenisei people”. The word “Ostyaks” was not the self-name, either. It was used, by analogy with the name for the Ob-Ugric Ostyaks (Khanty) and the Samoyed-speaking Selkup, by the Russian service class people who were advancing from the Ob to the Yenisei at the beginning of the 17th century.
Selkups, a Samoyed people, is a small-numbered indigenous people of the North. They live primarily in the Tomsk region (mostly in the Verkhneketsky, Kargasok, Kolpashevo, and Parabel districts), the Yamal-Nenets autonomous area (mostly in the Krasnoselkup and Pur districts), and in the Krasnoyarsk territory (the Turukhansk district).
The old Russian names for the Nganasans include Tavgi and Tavgians, which come from the Nenets word Tavs (Tavgi Samoyeds). The Enets' name is Tau, derived from their area of residence. They are called Avam Samoyeds and Vadeyev Nganasans or the Avam and Vadeyev Tavgi. Nganasan is an artificial ethnonym created by the Soviet linguist and ethnographer Georgy N. Prokofiev. It means “a real person” (similar to the Chukchi’s Luoravetlan). The books written by Andrey A. Popov perfectly illustrate the change in ethnonyms. The 1936 edition was titled The Tavgi, and the 1948 edition was titled Nganasans.
One of the smallest minorities of the North, the Enets reside in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. In pre-revolutionary literature, all Enets were referred to as the Yenisei Samoyeds. In the 1930s, linguist and ethnographer Georgiy Prokofiev introduced the ethnonym “Enets” into academic circulation.
The most common endonym of the Chulym people (the Chulym Turki) is tadar/tadar kizhi (common, in addition to the Chulyms, to the Shors and partially to the Altaians and the Khakass); Other variants include ös kizhi, us kizhi, chulym kizhi, pistin kizhi (“our people”, “the locals”). The total number according to the census of 2002 is 656 persons; according to the census of 2010, 355.
The 2002 census puts the overall number of this ethnic group at 2.650 persons, while the 2010 census recorded 2.643 representatives of this group. Over 95% of Teleuts live in the Kemerovo region, mostly in the village and cities of the Belovsky, Gurievsk, and Novokuznetsk districts. Small groups of Teleuts some of whom still retain their ethnic identity live in the Zarinsk and Kytmanovo districts of the Altai territory, as well as the Altai Republic.
The self-name of the Shors is tadar kizhi. The groups of the historical ancestors of these people were named according to their place of residence: the Chernevye Tatars (living in the chern taiga), Mrastsy (on the Mras/Mrassu river), the Kondomtsy (on the Kondoma river), Verkhotomtsy (on the Tom tiver), or by the clan names: the Abinets, Shors, Kalars, Kargins, etc. The official ethnonym “Shors” began to be used by the Turkic-speaking clans (söök/seok) of the upper reaches of the Tom and its tributaries only by the end of the 1920s.
Russian and Soviet ethnographic scholarship follows an established tradition of some 400 years and calls this group Chelkans after the name of one of its clans. There is also the name “Lebedin,” or people of the Lebed from the river Lebed where Chelkan communities live. During the Soviet era, Altai Chelkans were recorded in economic documents, passports, and Censuses as Altaians, while Chelkans of the Kemerovo Region were usually recorded as Shors.
The Kumandins, an indigenous small-numbered people, live in South Siberia, one of Russia’s most multi-ethnic regions. They use several endonyms to identify themselves, for instance: Tatar-Kizhi, Tadarlar, Kumandy Kizhi. Recently, they have used the Kumandins endonym. Since the 18th century, Kumandins have traditionally lived on both shores of the middle reaches of the river Biya including all of its tributaries, and along the shores of the river Isha.
In Russian ethnographic tradition, scholars usually classify the Tubalars as Northern Altaians. They have long lived in the basin of the upper reaches of the Biya and the upper reaches of the Ishi. Their traditional areas of residence are the villages of the Maiminsky, Turachaksky, and Choysky districts of the republic. Thus, one can distinguish three ethno-territorial groups of Tubalars, which differ slightly from each other.
The Telengits' endonym name goes back to the medieval term tele. This ethnonym has been known since the middle of the I millennium AD on the territory of modern Mongolia and the southern part of Siberian in Russia. For a long time, the ethnonym tele came and went, having nevertheless survived to this day in such names of South Siberian ethnic groups as Telengits, Teleuts, and Teles.
The Dolgan ~ Dulgaan ethnonym comes from the name of a Tungus or Lamut clan that Russian pioneers encountered in the mid-17th century on the right shore of the Lena across from the Viluy’s estuary. At that time, Dolgans also lived at the Aldan’s estuary. Currently, this ethnonym is used by the entire Dolgan people at the Taymyr Peninsula and along the Anabar river (the Republic of Sakha). The main Dolgan community living around Khatanga and in the lower reaches of the Anabar call themselves Haka (cf. the Yakut word Sakha). Western Dolgans use the endonym Tya Kihute, Tyalar. Dolgans are subdivided into several territorial groups: Western Dolgans (Norilsk – Pyasino Dolgans), Central (Volochanka and Ust-Avam Dolgans), and Eastern (Khatanga, Popigay, and Anabar Dolgans).
Evenks (called the Tungus before 1931) are a Tungus Manchu people living in Russia, Northeast China, and Mongolia. They settled in small groups over a vast territory from the Urals to the Pacific Ocean, from the Arctic Ocean to Mongolian steppes and Northeast China. In Russia, Evenks live in the catchment areas of the largest Siberian rivers: the Yenisei, the Lena, the Amur, and their tributaries. Since the 19th century, the westernmost Evenk group has lived in the catchment area of the Lower Irtysh’s right-hand tributaries.
Evens are a Tungusic ethnic group, and are among indigenous minority ethnic groups in the RF. Evens mostly live in the North-East and Far East of Russia. According to the 2020-2021 Census, there are 19,975 Evens (the 2010 All-Russia Census had this number at 22,383 people). Evens live in five administrative bodies in the Far East Federal Okrug.
The group name comes from the word tofa (also tyfa, typa, topa). The word “tofalar” is formed with the Turkic plural ending and means “representatives of the Tofa people” or “the Tofa people”. In the academic literature and other sources, the old name of the Tofalar was indicated as karagasy (the Karagas) and used until 1934.
The original of the Tozhu (the Tozhu Tuvan people) is tozhu or tozhu-kizhi. The pre-revolutionary sources often identify this group as Soyots or Soyons. Their traditional activities are reindeer herding, hunting, and gathering. Their total number according to the All-Russian Population Census of 2010 is 1856 persons, of which 82 reside in the Tozhinsky district of the Republic of Tyva, and 1774 – in the Tere-Kholsky district.
The Soyot live in the Oka (the villages of Sorok and Orlik) and the Tunka (the village of Mondy) districts of the Republic of Buryatia, but mostly they live in the Oka District, and consequently, scholars frequently term them the Oka Soyot.
Evenks, Yakuts, and Negidals called the Nanai natki, natkans, ngatki; the Ainu and the Nivkh called them ants; Yerofey Khabarov’s records preserved the ethnonym the Achan connected with the Akkhani territorial group that lived along the Amur from the mouth of the Sungari and to the village of Sakachi-Alyan (today it is called Sikachi-Alyan) and along the Ussuri. The ethnonym Goldes was the Nanai’s official name before the revolution and can be found in the documents and literature of the time.
The Udege are a small minority of the Russian Federation, living in the southern area of the Far East. The population from the pre-revolutionary period to the present day has stayed below two thousand people. The endonym ude, udehe, udikhe, was recorded by the researchers of the 19th century. It means “forest people” or “people of the forest”. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the Udege had been recorded under the ethnonyms Orochi, Kyakala, Orochen, as well as the Taz, who were often regarded as the same group as the Udege.
The Taz (their endonym is the Ta-dzy) is one of Russia’s smallest peoples. Ethnographers categorize them as part of the Amur Sakhalin historical and cultural area, specifically, its Primorye district. The Taz endonym is a phonetic variant of the Chinese tadzy/dadza/tadza (meaning “outlanders”). In the late 19th-early 20th century, Sergey N. Bravilovsky and Vladimir K. Arsenyev introduced it into the scholarship. Since then, the South Ussuri Tadzy began calling themselves the Taz instead of the Tadza or the Taza. Unlike the Ugede, the Nanai, and the Oroch, the Taz are mostly farmers. Hunting, fishing, and gathering used to be important in the past.
The Nivkh are a small indigenous people residing in the Russian Federation. They live in the Khabarovsk Territory (mainly in the Nikolaevsky and Ulchsky districts) and the Sakhalin region (mainly in the Nogliksky, Okhinsky, Tymovsky, Poronaisky districts and in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk). According to the census of 2010, the total number of the Nivkh was 4.652 persons.
Negidals are a Manchu-Tungus people. Their territory of residence is the Lower Amur basin in the Khabarovsk Territory. Negidals live mainly in three districts of the Territory: Imeni Poliny Osipenko, Ulchsky and Nikolaevsky. The process of ethnic formation of the Negidals took place in the basin of the Amgun in the 17-19th centuries. In the early sources and ethnographic literature, the Negidals were mentioned under the ethnonym “Tungus”. Their traditional occupations have historically been hunting, fishing, gathering, and (previously) reindeer herding.
Ulchi, a Tungus-Manchi people are descendants of Neolithic hunters-fishermen-gatherers of the Amur area and Primorye. They live in the Khabarovsk territory in the middle reaches of the Amur. The Ulchi have different endonyms: Nani “locals,” Manguns/Manguni (“people of the Amur”: Mangu means the Amur, ni means people), Olchi, Gilayks, Hedzenay (those living down the river).
The Uilta (Ulta, Orochen/Orochon, Orok) are an ethnic group with some of the smallest numbers in Russia. The northern and southern Uilta groups mostly live in the Nogliki (the village of Val, Nogliki urban type settlement) and Poronaisk (the city of Poronaisk) districts of the Sakhalin region; they used to speak the Northern and Southern dialects respectively. Censuses record a small group of the Uilta living in the Okha and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk districts (and on Sakhalin Island as well). Available sources put their total numbers at 320–340 persons in the 20th century and at no fewer than 600–700 persons in the 19th century.
The small people of the Oroch lives on the coast of the Tatar Strait and along the Amur’s shores. Most of the Oroch live in the Khabarovsk Territory: in the city of Sovetskaya Gavan and in the villages of Lososina, Zavety Ilicha, Maysky, Innokentievsky in the Sovetskaya Gavan sub-district; in Vanino and in the villages of Datta, Uska-Orochskaya, Akur, Tuluchi, Kenada in the Vanino sub-district; in Komsomolsk-on-Amur and in the village of Snezhny in the Komsomolsk sub-district; in the town of Amursk and in the village of Novoe Ommi in the Amursk district; in the villages of Solontsy, Tsimmermanovka, Kalinovka, Dudi in the Ulchi district. Several Oroch families live in the Primorye Territory in the villages of Krasny Yar and Agzu.
One widespread hypothesis claims that the ethnonym “Yukaghir” derives from Even words “yuke” meaning “cold” or “yoke” meaning “remote” that, together with the suffix “ghir” (“people”/”tribe”) are translated as “a remote tribe” / “people of a cold land.” By the time the first written information about Yukaghirs had appeared in the 17th century, they lived over vast territories of Northeast Siberia from the river Lena to the river Anadyr. Yukaghirs were not a monolithic ethnic community and were divided into clans and tribes.
Chuvans are an indigenous people of the northeast of Siberia; currently, they live in settlements in the middle and lower reaches of the Anadyr. Their native tongue that had probably been closely related to Yukaghir is lost. The 2010 Census recorded 1,002 Chuvans in Russia, the 2020 Census recorded 900 Chuvans with most of them (742) living in the Chukotka autonomous area.
Koryaks, a people of Russia, live in the Koryak area of the Kamchatka territory. The area was formed on July 1, 2007, when the Kamchatka region was merged with the Koryak autonomous area. The area spans the north of the peninsula, the Kamchatka Isthmus, and adjacent mainland areas.
Itelmens (endonym Itelmen, Itenmen – a local resident, an older name is Kamchadal) is an ethnic group in the Russian Federation. They mostly live in Koryakskiy Okrug of Kamchatka Krai, where they are concentrated in four settlements of Tigilski District: Kovran, Ust-Khairyuzovo, Tigil, Khairyuzovo, as well as the administrative centre of the Okrug, the urban-type settlement Palana.
Sergei Stebnitsky explained his opinion in the following way: “...However, I give the group of the Nymylans in question the name “the Alyutor people” and call their dialect “Alyutorsky” (Alyutorian) in accordance with the name of one of the Alyutor villages, namely the village of Alut on the coast of Korf Bay. The contemporary village of Alut during the Nymylan-Luoravetlan (Koryak-Chukchi) and the Nymylan-Russian wars was one of the principal strongholds of the Alyutors, as unanimously evidenced by both the historical sources at our disposal and the legends of the Alyutors themselves”.
Kereks, whose endonym is Ankalakku (those living by the sea), belong to the Paleo-Siberian ethnic group – they are descendants of prehistoric dwellers of the Arctic, successors of the groups belonging to the Lakhtin culture who had lived along the ocean coast of Chukotka and Kamchatka since time immemorial. Judging on the archaeological data, numerous ancient Kerek settlements were scattered along the coast of the Bering Sea from the Anadyr estuary to the estuary of the River Opuka.
The Kamchadals are a people of mixed ethnic origin living on the Kamchatka Peninsula (Kamchatka Territory) and on the northeastern coast of the Sea of Okhotsk (Magadan region).
Like the American Aleuts, the inhabitants of the Commander Islands call themselves unangan/unangas, which means “the coastal people” or “those living by the sea.” They often use the Russian word “Aleuts,” changing it to the plural according to the grammar rules of their language. Thus, the inhabitants of Medny Island of the Commander Islands (Mednovtsy) say Aleuuta-n, those of the Bering Strait – Aleuutas.
The endonym “Chukchi” comes from the self-name of the tundra Chukchi chauchu/chavchu, that is, “reindeer man”. The coastal Chukchi were called ankalyt/ankalyn, “the sea people”. There was also a common self-name for both the reindeer herders and the sea animal hunters, lygyoravetlyan, “real people”, but it did not take root as the official name of the people.
A group of related peoples, Inuits have settled widely along the Arctic coast of the US (Alaska) and Canada, in Greenland (Denmark) and along the southeast coast of the Chukotka Peninsula (Russia). They clearly see themselves as generally different from their neighbors, Native Americans in America and the Chukchi in Asia. However, Inuits have smaller ethnic groups within their larger community, with each group having its own dialect and specific cultural traits.
Media Library
Partners of the Interactive Atlas of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Far East of the Russian Federation: Languages and Cultures
The Ministry of Science and Higher Education
of the Russian Federation
Department for coordination of activities of
educational organizations
The Federal Agency
for Ethnic Affairs
Authors of the Interactive Atlas
The Russian State University
for the Humanities
The Russian Association
of Indigenous Peoples of the North
The Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography
(the Kunstkamera)
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Institute for Linguistic Studies
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Institute of Linguistics
of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Tomsk State University
Northern (Arctic) Federal University
named after M.V. Lomonosov
The Russian State Pedagogical University in the name of A. I. Herzen
The Siberian Federal University
The Vavilov Institute of General Genetics