SELKUPS or Ostyak Samoyeds

They call themselves söl´kup or shöl´kup. This name came into official use in the 1930s. The earlier and more commonly known name Ostyak Samoyed originated from the Russian language.


The Selkups live in Siberia on the banks of the Taz river and between middle reaches of the Ob and Yenisey rivers; their territory stretches out as far as the Tomsk Province in the Yamal Nenets AD of the Krasnoyarsk region and Tyumen Province. They form the majority of the population in the Krasnoselkup region of the Yamal Nenets AD.


year population knowledge of the native language
1959 3,768 50.6%
1970 4,282 51.1%
1979 3,565 56.6%
1989 3,612 47.6%


1,719 Selkups who speak their mother tongue is obviously not enough to retain their own language and life-style in a continuously changing environment.

Turning Points in the History of the Selkups

For centuries the Selkups have been living under the domination and ambition of other nations.

13th c – Selkups became subjects and tributaries to the Turkic peoples;

1628 – the founding of the fortified settlement (ostrog) of Krasnoyarsk marks the subjection of the Selkups to the Russian domination and taxation;

18th c – forcible mass conversion to Orthodoxy;

1930s – collectivisation, imposed resident life-style and aggressive atheism prove fatal to the Selkup life-style;

1960s – the now resident Selkups have adopted the Russian life-style and mass culture.

Danger Signs

The destruction of the traditional life-style of the Selkups has caused great problems of adaptation to new living conditions and requirements, as well as to new jobs. The failure to adapt has brought about unemployment and alcoholism.

Giving the Krasnoselkup region the status of the national Autonomous District is the least that should be done to maintain a hope of their national survival.

ENDANGERED URALIC PEOPLES Uralic Peoples of Siberia and Russian Northern Europe Selkups