A Yakut family
|Regions with significant populations|
|Russia||478,085 (2010 census)|
|United States||less than 300 (2000 census)|
|Kazakhstan||415 (2009 census)|
|Ukraine||304 (2001 census)|
|Shamanism, Eastern Orthodoxy|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Dolgans, Tuvans, Khakas, Altay, Mongols|
The Yakuts, or the Sakha (Yakut: ?, sakha, plural: ?, sakhalar), are a Turkic ethnic group who mainly live in the Republic of Sakha in the Russian Federation, with some extending to the Amur, Magadan, Sakhalin regions, and the Taymyr and Evenk Autonomous Districts. The Yakut language belongs to the Siberian branch of the Turkic languages. The Russian word yakut was taken from Evenk yok?. The Yakuts call themselves sakha or urangai sakha in some old chronicles.
The Yakuts engage in animal husbandry, traditionally having focused on rearing horses, mainly the Yakutian horse, reindeer and the Sakha Ynagha (Yakutian cow), a hardy kind of cattle known as Yakutian cattle which is well-adapted to the harsh local weather.
The ancestors of Yakuts were Kurykans who migrated from Yenisey river to Lake Baikal and were subject to a certain Mongolian admixture prior to migration in the 7th century. The Yakuts originally lived around Olkhon and the region of Lake Baikal. Beginning in the 13th century they migrated to the basins of the Middle Lena, the Aldan and Vilyuy rivers under the pressure of the rising Mongols. The northern Yakuts were largely hunters, fishermen and reindeer herders, while the southern Yakuts raised cattle and horses.
In the 1620s the Tsardom of Muscovy began to move into their territory and annexed or settled down on it, imposed a fur tax and managed to suppress several Yakut rebellions between 1634 and 1642. The tsarist brutality in collection of the pelt tax (yasak) sparked a rebellion and aggression among the Yakuts and also Tungusic-speaking tribes along the River Lena in 1642. The voivode Peter Golovin, leader of the tsarist forces, responded with a reign of terror: native settlements were torched and hundreds of people were killed. The Yakut population alone is estimated to have fallen by 70 percent between 1642 and 1682, mainly because of smallpox and other infectious diseases.
In the 18th century the Russians reduced the pressure, gave Yakut chiefs some privileges, granted freedom for all habitats, gave them all their lands, sent Eastern Orthodox missions, and educated the Yakut people regarding agriculture. The discovery of gold and, later, the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway, brought ever-increasing numbers of Russians into the region. By the 1820s almost all the Yakuts claimed to have converted to the Russian Orthodox church, but they retained (and still retain) a number of shamanist practices. Yakut literature began to rise in the late 19th century, and a national revival occurred in the early 20th century.
In 1922, the new Soviet government named the area the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The last conflict of the Russian Civil War, known as the Yakut Revolt, occurred here when Cornet Mikhail Korobeinikov, a White Russian officer, led an uprising and a last stand against the Red Army.
In the late 1920s through the late 1930s, Yakut people were systematically persecuted, when Joseph Stalin launched his collectivization campaign. It is possible that hunger and malnutrition during this period resulted in a decline in the Yakut total population from 240,500 in 1926 to 236,700 in 1959. By 1972, the population began to recover. Currently, Yakuts form a large plurality of the total population within the vast Sakha Republic. According to the 2010 Russian census, there were a total of 466,492 Yakuts residing in the Sakha Republic during that year, or 49.9% of the total population of the Republic.
The majority of Yakut males belong to Haplogroup N-Tat, with the observed frequency in most samples of Yakuts being approximately 90% (Central Yakut 86%, Yakut 89%, Vilyuy Yakut 93%, Yakut 94%). However, a sample of Yakut males from northern Yakutia has revealed a somewhat lower frequency of this haplogroup (Northern Yakut 47/66 = 71% N-TAT). The remainder of the Yakut Y-DNA pool consists of members of haplogroup C-M217 (approximately 4.0%, including members of the C-M48 and C-M407 subclades), haplogroup R1a-M17 (approximately 3.5%, including members of the R1a-M458 subclade), and haplogroup N-P43 (approximately 2.1%), with sporadic instances of haplogroup I1-M253, haplogroup R1b-M269, haplogroup J2, and haplogroup Q.
A majority of Yakut people belong to mtDNA haplogroup C (75/164 = 45.7% Central Yakut, 60/148 = 40.5% Northern Yakut, 40/111 = 36.0% Vilyuy Yakut) or haplogroup D (54/164 = 32.9% Central Yakut, 33/111 = 29.7% Vilyuy Yakut, 38/148 = 25.7% Northern Yakut), with subclades D5a2a2 (57/423 = 13.48%), C4a1c (47/423 = 11.11%), C4a2 (35/423 = 8.27%), C4b1 (33/423 = 7.80%), and C5b1b (19/423 = 4.49%) being particularly well represented. Minor mtDNA haplogroups of Eastern Eurasian origin include haplogroup G (22/423 = 5.20%, including 19/423 = 4.49% G2a and 3/423 = 0.71% G1b), haplogroup F (19/423 = 4.49%, including 13/423 = 3.07% F1b and 6/423 = 1.42% F2b1), haplogroup M13a1b (15/423 = 3.55%), haplogroup A (8/423 = 1.89%), haplogroup Y1a (5/423 = 1.18%), haplogroup B (5/423 = 1.18%), haplogroup Z3 (4/423 = 0.95%), and haplogroup M7 (3/423 = 0.71%). A minority of Yakuts (42/423 = 9.93%) belong to mtDNA haplogroups of Western Eurasian origin, including haplogroup H (15/423 = 3.55%), haplogroup W (6/423 = 1.42%), haplogroup J1c5 (6/423 = 1.42%), haplogroup T2 (5/423 = 1.18%), haplogroup HV1a1a (5/423 = 1.18%), haplogroup R1b2a (2/423 = 0.47%), haplogroup U5b1b1a (2/423 = 0.47%), and haplogroup U4d2 (1/423 = 0.24%).
According to the 2010 census, some 87% of the Yakuts in the Sakha Republic are fluent in the Yakut (or Sakha) language, while 90% are fluent in Russian. The Sakha/Yakut language belongs to the North Siberian of the Siberian Turkic languages. It is most closely related to the Dolgan language, and also to a lesser extent related to Tuvan and Shor.
The cuisine of Sakha prominently features the traditional drink kumis, dairy products of cow, mare, and reindeer milk, sliced frozen salted fish stroganina (?), loaf meat dishes (oyogos), venison, frozen fish, thick pancakes, and salamat--a millet porridge with butter and horse fat. Kuerchekh [?] or kierchekh, a popular dessert, is made of cow milk or cream with various berries. Indigirka is a traditional fish salad. This cuisine is only used in Yakutia.