Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Rusyns, also called Ruthenians, Ruthenes, Rusins, Rysins, Carpatho-Rusins, and Russniaks, are a modern group of ethnic groups that speak the Rusyn language and are descended from the Ruthenians that did not become Ukrainians in the 19th century.
They originate from the northern Carpathians and still inhabit those areas as well as some others in the Pannonian plain. Their homeland is often referred to as Carpathian Ruthenia though that meaning no longer exactly matches the places inhabited by Rusyns.
Main groups of Ruthene highlanders in the former Galician Carpathians are called (from west to east):
Before the 18th century, the inhabitants of wider Ruthenian region (present day Ukraine) were named "Ruthenians" or "Ruthenes" (Rusini or Rusiny) in Poland, and "Little Ruthenians" (Malorusiny or "Little Russians", Maloross in Russia), and their language was known as Ruthenian (Malorossian), and it was closest to the modern Ukrainian language.
The name Ukrainian did not appear in a national sense until beginning of 19th century. In the first decades of 19th century the Ukrainian national movement was created and Ruthenian inteligentsia from Lviv and Kiev started to call themselves Ukrainians and did not use name of Ruthenians any more.
Some Ruthenian ethnic groups living on the border of the same territory were not fully included into creation of the Ukrainian nation, such as the people from Carpathian Ruthenia, Don Cossacks, Poleshuks, Ruthenians of Podlachia. Some of them continued to call themselves Ruthenians.
In contrast to the Ukrainian national movement, modern Ruthenian movement was based on the concept of unity with Russians. In this sense Carpatho-Ruthenians represent typical ethnicity of borderland and their national awakening is a negation of Ukrainian nationalism.
Carpatho-Ruthenian national movement is especially strong amongst those Ruthenian groups that became early geographically separated from Ukrainian ethnic territory (for example Ruthenian settlers in Serbia (Vojvodina), emigrants in USA and Canada).
It should be noted that majority of Ruthenian speakers from Carpathian Mountains area consider themselves as Ukrainians or have separate (other than Ukrainian or Ruthenian) ethnic consciousness (for example Lemko).
Tribes of Ruthenians (also known as Rusins, Rusyns, or Rusnaks) are: Lemkos (Lemoks, Lemkians), Boykos (Boyks), Hutsuls (Gutsuls, Hutzuls, or Huculs), Verkhovinetses (Verkhovynetses, Highlanders), Dolinyanins (Haynals).
During the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (18th and 19th centuries), some Ruthenians moved to what are now the northern regions of Bosnia, Vojvodina (now Serbia-Montenegro) and Slavonia (now Croatia). There they are called by the name Rusins. Note that until the 1971 Yugoslav census, both Ukrainians (Ukrajinci-Украјинци) and Ruthenians (Rusini-Русини) were recorded collectively as Ruthene, at which point they started being recorded separately, and split up the total number with the Ukrainians forming in a minority.
With the onset of the Internet, some of the Ruthenian emigrees to the west acquired a vehicle to voice their concerns and try to preserve their separate ethnic and cultural identity.
The Ruthenes are an ethnic group that has never had a country of their own. As such, they have been pulled and influenced by larger powers (Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, etc.).
When the Ruthenes accepted Christianity (and who or what they worshiped before) is a source of some debate, but it clearly occurred prior to the break between Orthodox (Easter) and Catholic (Western) churches in 1054. Saints Cyril (for whom Russia's Cyrillic alphabet is named) and Methodius are referred to as the "Apostles to the Slavs" and many Ruthenian churches are built in their honor.
Author Paul Robert Magocsi provides one of the most detailed and balanced accounts of Ruthene history in "Our People: Carpatho-Rusyns and Their Descendants in North America" published in 1984. At the time, he recorded that there were approximately 690,000 Carpatho-Rusyn church members in the United States (320,000 in the largest Catholic affiliations, 270,000 in the largest Orthodox affiliations, with a remaining 100,000 in various other Protestant and smaller organizations).
Eastern Rite Catholics
Many Ruthenians belong to the Uniate Church, acknowledging the Pope, since the meetings at Uzhhorod in 1508 and Lithuanian Brest in 1596, but retaining their Old Slavonic liturgy and most of the outward forms of the Greek or Eastern Orthodox Church.
Eastern Orthodox Church
Although originally associated with the Russian Orthodox Church, the affiliation of Ruthenian Orthodox has been adversely affected by the Communist revolution in Russia and the resulting Orthodox diaspora. A number of emigre communities have laid claim to continuing the Orthodox tradition of the pre-revolution church while either negating or minimizing the validity of the church organization operating under Communist authority. For example, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) was granted auto-cephalous (self-governing) status by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1970. Although approximately 25% of the OCA was Ruthenian in the early 1980s, an influx of Orthodox emigres from other nations and new converts wanting to connect with the "early" church have lessened the impact of a particular Ruthenian emphasis in favor of a new American Orthodoxy.
Rusyn, less accurately referred to as the Ruthenian language, is in substance like Ukrainian, enough so that the Ukrainian government considers it merely a dialect of Ukrainian, to the intense resentment of Ruthenians. In the extreme west of Carpathian Ruthenia, the language approaches Slovak. The dialect of the Hutsuls near borders of Bukovina is also characteristic.
However, Rusyn language in Vojvodina is classified as Western Slavic and it share large similarity with Slovak.
- Andy Warhol (birth name Warhola) - son of two Rusyns from Slovakia, famous artist.
- Tom Ridge - son of an evidently mixed-blood Cherokee father and Rusyn mother whose family comes from Slovakia
- The Rusin Association Home Page
- Carpatho-Rusin American Collection
- Carpatho-Rusyn, Rusin, Ruthenia: Cross-Index
- Who Are We: Rusin, Russian, Ruthenian, Slovak ...? by John Slivka
- Rusin Association of Minneapolis Minnesota Homepage
Warning: While reading the sources listed above, as well as sources of Ukrainian and Polish origin, one has to be careful to recognize the underlying interest of each of these groups supporting their own national mythology by selective presentation of information and the inter- and extrapolations favorable to that mythos.
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