Colonization of the northern outskirts of the Tarsky district in the pre-Soviet period: historical and ethnocultural aspects

Adaev V.N.




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The study deals with the history of the colonization of the northern part of the Tarsky okrug (district) in the late 17th early 20th centuries (Western Siberia, Russia). This taiga territory, which included the upper reaches of the Demyanka River, featured an abundance of hunting resources, but it was located significantly far from the administrative center of the district and was surrounded by barely-passable swamps. The objectives of the research include determination of the chronological features of the colonization with an emphasis on the ethnic and cultural aspects of the process. The paper is based on diverse sources: cartographic materials, 18th20th century publications, archival records, and the field historical and ethnographic data. The study is based upon the theoretical framework by A.V. Golovnev concerning the concepts of colonization and anthropology of movement. It has been ascertained that the administrative borders in the area of the Demyanka River were originally determined along the boundaries of the areas of activity of the ethnic groups assigned to different districts of the Tobolsk gubernia. Three stages were revealed in the history of colonization of the northern part of the Tarsky okrug, within each of which the area was perceived from the administrative center in a special way, and the policy towards it differed significantly. In the 17th18th centuries, the state control was limited to the collection of the yasak from the Tatar hunters who seasonally visited the Demyanka territory. Later on, up until the 1880s, only unregistered groups of nomadic Khanty and Evenks were staying in the territory, with whom some officials and other district dwellers had maintained unofficial socio-economic contacts. In the 1890s1910s, after the arrival of a large number of peasant settlers in the okrug, the authorities conducted the first economic and geographical survey of the territory for the prospect of its agricultural exploitation, while the local Russian old-settlers and a small part of the migrants established intensive tradable hunting in the Demyanka territory, developing a network of routes through the swamps.

Keywords: Siberian old settlers, migrants, indigenous people of the North, mainstream and local cultures, history of Western Siberia.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 29.09.2021

Article is published: 15.12.2022


Adaev V.N., Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RAS, Chervishevskiy trakt, 13, Tyumen, 625008, Russian Federation, E-mail:,