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The first written mention of Livonians was in the year 1113 in the chronicles of Nestor entitled "Stories of Long Ago". During the period dating from 1186 to 1206, Livonians warred against the Crusaders, as a result of which they were forced to surrender and accept the Christian faith. Since then, the first Livonian words "maga magamas" (sleep, sleeping) have been preserved in the Livonia chronicles of Henrik, along with the given names Ako, Alo, Caupo, and so on. From that time onward, Livonians seemed to disappear from the map of the world's cultures for centuries. lt was as late as the 19th Century that they were "rediscovered" by Finnish scholar A.J. Sjögren. The Livonian culture began to flourish during the 1920s and 30s. On April 2, 1923 the Livonians' Union (Livõd It) was founded and on November l 8 of that same year, the green, white and blue Livonian flag was introduced. For Livonians these colours symbolise the Livonian coast, but they seem to in fact be those used previously in the area of Kuronia.This period in history was also marked by ever-increasing ties with related nationalities and people of common linguistic background, through whose support close to 20 Livonian language books were published and the newspaper "Livli" was founded in 1931 .Most importantly it was largely due to the support of such kindred peoples that on August 6, 1939 the Livonian House was opened as a symbol of co-operative work. The importance of Livonians' contacts with their related peoples in the area is also reflected in the fact that the Livonian, Estonian and Finnish national anthems share a common melody.
Livonian is one of the oldest languages spoken by any Baltic Sea peoples and Livonians are one of the most closely related peoples to Estonians. The Livonian population has dwindled over the years, as has the number of settlements. There were thought to be close to 20 000 Livonians in the 13th Century. Following World War I approximately 1500 Livonians inhabited 12 villages in the area of northern Kuronia. Only 800 Livonians remained after World War II and due to their coastal villages being designated part of a restricted coastal zone, many of them moved to Riga. As opposed to Estonians' other closely related peoples, the Votians, Livonians seem to have a brighter future as a group, since they have their own national movement. Livonians have their own state foundation "Livõd Randa", founded in 1991 by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, as well as a Livonian Cultural Centre which opened its doors in 1994. Since 1995 Livonian has been taught at the University of Latvia. Livonians have 5 folklore ensembles and a newspaper printed in Latvian. They have their own representative in parliament and the greatest percentage of artists, poets, musicians and renowned scholars of any people in the worid.
JAAK PROZES, email@example.com
President of the Estonian Union of National Minorities