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Khants (obsolete: Yugra, Ostyaks) are an endangered ethnic group calling themself Khanti, Khande, Kantek (Khanty), living in the autonomous region Khantia-Mansia in Russian Federation, together with Mansi peoples. In Khantia-Mansia, the Khant and Mansi languages are given co-official status with Russian. Some Khants also live in Yamalia.
Main article: History of Khants
Khants appear most likely in Russian records under the name Yugra (ca. 11th century), when they had contact with Russian hunters and merchants. The name comes from Komi-Zyrian language jögra (Khant). It is also possible that they were first recorded by the English King Alfred the Great (ca. 10th century), who located Fenland (wetland) to the east of the White Sea in Western Siberia.
In the 11th century, Yugra was actually a term for numerous tribes, each having its own centre and its own chief. Every tribe had two exogamic phatries, termed mon't' and por, and all members were considered to be blood relatives. This structure was later replaced with clans, where each clan leader (knyaztsy) negotiated with the Russian realm. They also participated in Russian campaigns, and received the right to collect yasaq (tribute) from two Khanty volosts (districts) respectively. When this structure was no longer needed, Russia deprived them of their privileges.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, there were attempts to introduce Christianity, but the Khanty lifestyle did not undergo any real changes. In the second half of 19th century, they gradually accepted state law.
The Khanty are one of the few indigenous minorities of Siberia with an autonomy in the form of an okrug (autonomous district). The establishment of autonomy has played a considerable role in consolidation of the ethnos (the Western Khants called their eastern neighbours Kantők [the Other People]). This process was intensified in the 1980s and '90s due to opposition to protect their common territory from industrial expansion of various ministries and agencies. The autonomy has also played a major role in preserving the traditional culture and language.
Main article: Economy of Khants
The Khants' traditional occupations were fishery, taiga hunting and reindeer herding. They lived as trappers, thus gathering was of major importance.
Main article: Khant organisation
The Khanty are one of the few indigenous minorities in Siberia with an autonomy in the form of an okrug (autonomous district).
Main article: Khant mythology
Khants are today Orthodox Christians, mixed with traditional beliefs (shamans, reincarnation).
Their historical shaman wore no special clothes except a cap.
Main article: Khanty language
The Khanty language is a language belonging to the Ugric branch of the Uralic languages, consisting of ten dialects, divided into southern, northern and eastern subgroups, and closely related to the Mansi language .
- Centre for Russian Studies — Norwegian studies of Russian peoples
- Khants — Some pictures of Khants' bird and fishery traps
- Redbook: The Khants
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