These are people who need yet to be convinced that they are again allowed to live in their original territory.
They call themselves inkeriläinen or inkerin suomalainen. The savakot and the äyrämöiset emigrants, who left Southeast Finland in the 17th century, found a common name for themselves when they became aware of the relationship with the Finns of Finland. In the Soviet Union they were referred to as the Leningradskie Finny after their location.
Historically Ingria comprises the area between the Gulf of Finland, the basin of the Neva and Lake Ladoga. In 1710 it was designated as the Province of St. Petersburg and in 1927 as Leningrad Province.
It is known that in 1656 the Finns made up 41.4% of the population of Ingria, but in 1695 73.8%. More exact figures about the population can be found starting from the 19th century:
The 1989 census showed that there were 67 359 Finns living in the Soviet Union, of whom 34.6% spoke their native language. Approximately one quarter of them lived in Karelia, another quarter in Estonia, a third quarter in the Leningrad Province and the remainder somewhere else. The Ingrian Finns have not been separated from the rest of the Finns since the census of 1939. In 1989, approximately 1% of the inhabitants of the Leningrad Province (excluding St. Petersburg) were Finns.
Turning Points in the History
The destiny of the Ingrian Finns has been seriously affected by the location of the Russian-Swedish border on the Isthmus of Karelia after the Great Northern War, which separated them from the rest of the Finns. Yet 300 years of life and work passed before the Ingrian Finns were labelled strangers and their territory claimed as having been historically Russian. The Soviet regime started implementing resolute measures:
1928 – collectivisation started, the first mass deportation;
1932 – religious practices are forbidden;
1937 – cultural activities in Finnish are forbidden;
1939 – at least 13,000 Finns are murdered and another 37,000 are taken to concentration camps;
1942 – almost 30,000 people are deported to Siberia;
1944/45 – 55,773 Finns who were evacuated and return home are dispersed in the provinces in Central Russia.
Within only 20 years, 110,000 people or 97% of the population of Ingria were removed. School instruction in Finnish, Lutheran church, newspapers and magazines, societies, Finnish-language literature, etc., were either eliminated or prohibited, as was living in one’s native community. Since 1956 approximately 1/7 of the population have returned to their native settlement area by special permission.
The primary one is undoubtedly the ethnic dispersion of the Ingrian Finns, which makes their survival as an nation very dubious. The decrease in the numbers of people who still can speak their mother tongue demonstrates the difficulty of retaining the language in a foreign environment: in 1979 – 51.9% in the Leningrad Province, 49.8% in Karelia, 37.1% in Estonia; an average of 34.6% in the whole Soviet Union in 1989. Under these conditions even a more numerous nation would soon be assimilated. Among the Ingrian Finns the language shift is already well under way.
Under these circumstances we should not so much investigate the dangers, but rather pose the question: Is there any hope left for the Ingrian Finns? Not everything is lost, however, because the Russian government has rehabilitated the Ingrian Finns as a nation (1993); since 1989, 15 church congregations have been restored (in 1918 there were approximately 100) and national cultural societies have been established in Estonia, Leningrad Province, Karelia, Sweden and elsewhere.
However, the hopes are curbed by the fact that 13,000 Ingrian Finns have already emigrated to Finland, with another 7,000 waiting their turn.
ENDANGERED URALIC PEOPLES
www.suri.ee: Ingermanland, Ingrians (Izhorians), Votians (Votes), Ingrian Finns