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23:28 | Nov 23 | 2012

An Integral Part of the Russian Land

How history has inextricably linked Yakutia and Russia together.

This year is the 380th anniversary of Yakutia’s integration into the Russian state. We would like to share an excerpt from the book “Yakutia - Russia: 370 Years Together”, which was published in 2002.

“…Primitive people inhabited basins of such mighty northern rivers as the Lena, Yana, Indigirka, Kolyma, Anabar, Olenka, and their tributaries Aldan, Amga, Vilyuj, Olekma and others at the end of the Ice Age, laying the foundation for the development of human civilization in the vast expanses of the North- Eastern Asia, Alaska and Canada, Central and South Americas. Archaeologists established the presence of all archaeological cultures in this vast territory, carriers of which created the original native culture adapted to the extreme conditions of existence.
An enormous contribution to the cultural and economic development of this boundless region was made by its aboriginal peoples – the Sakha (Yakuts), the Evenki (Tungus), the Evens (Lamuts), the Yukagirs (Odules), the Chukchi, the Dolgans, whose efforts in hunting and fishing, reindeer and cattle breeding helped to colonize the most severe part of the Northern Hemisphere. The researchers named them “a selfless squadron of humanity”, active participants in the world historical process and in collective cultural creativity of the humanity.
By the time of inclusion of the Lena region into the Russian state its main indigenous population consisted of the most northerly settled herdsmen in the world – Turkic speaking Yakuts, who bred cattle and horses, hunted, fished, forged, and created a remarkable heroic epic – Olonkho and unique material and spiritual culture.
The culture of other indigenous peoples: the Evenks, Evens, Yukagirs, Dolgans and Chukchi is also rich and diverse. With regard to their religious views, they were followers of shamanism and beliefs animating forces of nature. Living in extreme climatic conditions of the North, the natives were engaged in relevant to them extensive farming; they were poorly politically organized, lived in families, and only Yakuts were partially merged into larger tribal communities.
Rich in furs “Yakolskaya land” had long attracted adventurous and brave military men who went deep into Yakutia in two ways from the North (via Mangazeya) and from the South (via Yeniseysk). Tobolsk and Mangazeya people followed the Lower Tunguska, then dragged to the upper reaches of the Chona river, the Vilyuj inflow, then went by the Vilyuj down to the Lena. Yenisei Cossacks, however, moved along the Upper Tunguska (the Angara) and its tributary Ilim, then dragged to the Kuty river, from where sailed to the upper reaches of the Lena River.

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As early as in the twenties of the XVII century parties of the manufacturer Pantelei Pyandy, Cossacks Vassily Bugor, Anton Dobrynsky, Martyn Vassiliev, Ivan Galkin and others made visits to the Lena river. However, the date of inclusion of Yakutia into Russia is considered to be 1632, when a Yenisei Cossack colonel Pyotr Beketov founded the Lensky burg on the right bank of the Lena River, in the Chymaada area, about 70 km below of the modern Yakutsk, and sent the tsar a petition about this historic event...
...The independent Yakut county was founded in 1638 and it directly reported to the Siberian Board, which was later converted to the Yakutsk province (1775) and the Yakutsk region (1784) of the Irkutsk area. P.P.Golovin and M.B.Glebov were appointed as the first governors; they arrived to Lensky burg on July 18, 1641. They immediately took up their duties. In 1643, Lensky burg was moved to the left bank, and was called Yakutsky.
Since its foundation Yakutsk became not only administrative, military, commercial, cultural and religious center of the Yakutsk county, but also a base for the development and exploration of new territories of the Far East and the North-East of Asia. In the second half of the XVII century, famous Semyon Dezhnev discovered a strait between Asia and America, Ivan Moskvitin reached the shores of the Pacific Ocean, a native of Yakutsk Vladimir Atlasov opened Kamchatka... The “finding of” and “checking on” new lands by service class people were always supported by unbeatable taiga guides – local people.
Thus, in the first half of the XVII century Lensky region became an integral part of the centralized Russian state, which vigorously pursued a deliberate policy of expanding its borders to the north-east, and which had already become a multi-ethnic and multi-confession Eurasian country...
…As a result the Russian state has acquired a vast territory rich in natural resources, the exploitation of which was meant to strengthen its financial and economic situation.

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...While moving across the territory of Yakutia service class men and industry people began to set up yasak outposts and winter quarters near local settlements, which were gradually increasing in the number of permanent Russian population. From the second half of XVII century Russian peasants began to engage in arable farming, introducing their neighbours to agriculture – first, newly baptized Yakuts, then the representatives of other peoples. Since the second half of the XIX century, agriculture becomes the second branch of economy of local residents. Marriages between Russian and indigenous to the region people contributed to the cultural and community rapprochement.
According to the researchers, the desire for peaceful co-existence manifested by both sides became a major trend of their relationship. Christianization of aboriginals helped to deep diverse connections, through which they had joined not only Russian, but also the world culture. The first school was opened at the Yakutsk Spassky Monastery in 1736, “A Brief Catechism” – the first book in the Yakut language was published in 1819, the first literate people from the local community appeared. In the first quarter of the XIX century the Yakut alphabet based on the Russian alphabet came around…”