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.

General information
Currently, Chelkans live mostly in the large settlements in the Altai Republic, in Turochak, Artybash, Iogach, in the city of Gorno-Altaisk, and also in the villages of Kurmach-Baygol, Suranash, Kebezen, Maysky, and Chuika of the Turochak district of the Altai Republic. A few Chelkans live in the Kemerovo Region in settlements close to the Altai Republic’s border.
Surrounding society and the main economic society of the region of residence

The population of the Turochak district where most Chelkans live work in commerce, the service industry, tourism, and the timber industry. The Turochak district has the third-highest per capita revenues in the Altai Republic.

Spiritual culture

Chelkans’ religious beliefs in the 19th-early 20th century were, like the beliefs of other mountain-taiga ethnic groups in the region, a whimsical mix of old shamanic ideas and the gradually spreading official and primarily everyday Orthodox Christianity. However, since Chelkan villages were far removed from the Altai Spiritual Mission, official Orthodox Christianity failed, for a long time, to make much progress among Chelkans.

Supplementary materials
Other materials describing the life, culture and history of the people
Interactive Atlas of the Indigenous Small-Numbered Peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East