ETHNONYMS: Sakha (Khaka), Tya or Tya Kikhi (forest person, forest man)

Identification and Location. The Dolgan inhabit the Taimyr Peninsula and the left bank of the lower Yenisei River, across from the town of Dudinka. This territory forms part of the Taimyr (Dolgan-Nenets) Autonomous District ( okrug), the TAO, which is part of the Krasnoyarsk region of the Russian Federation (RF). The Dolgan do not enjoy national autonomy. In the majority of settlements they reside and conduct their economy in common with the Nganasan, Evenki, Nenets, and other nationalities, as well as with migrants. At the present time most of the Dolgan are concentrated in the settlements along the courses of the Dudypta, Kheta, and Khatanga rivers and along the shores of Khatanga Bay. Some also live in the settlements of Levinskie Peski and Khantaiskoe Ozero in the western part of the TAO. A number of families reside in the district capital of Dudinka and in the large townlike settlement of Khatanga.

The majority of the territorial groupings that contributed to the formation of the Dolgan migrated from regions more to the south than those of the Nganasan. Here the terrain is for the most part forest tundra (Russian: lesotundra ) with sparse growth of larch. In the eastern part of the peninsula the taiga infringes from the south. The average January temperature for Khatanga is —33.8° C and the mean July temperature is 12.3° C.

Demography. According to the 1989 census, 6,600 Dolgan resided in the Russian Federation (RF), with 1,300 in cities of the RF. Some 5,000 Dolgan resided in the TAO and constituted 11.8 percent of the total population. About a quarter of the total Dolgan population resided outside their district. Of those residing within the district, 71 percent were concentrated in the Khatanga subdistrict.

linguistic Affiliation. The Dolgan language is classified in the Turkic Language Group, part of the Altaic Language Family. As late as the 1950s it was classified as a dialect of the Yakut language. Today, however, it has won a place for itself as a distinct language. Yakut lexical and grammatical forms predominate, but Evenki, Russian, and some Samoyedic lexical forms have become incorporated into the Dolgan language. There are phonetic and morphological differences between the speeches of various territorial groups. At present, three Dolgan subgroups are distinguished: Western (Yenisei, Norilsk), Central (Avam), and Eastern (Khatanga). Occasionally a fourth subgroup is distinguished, the easternmost one of the Popigai Dolgan. In spite of local divergences in speech, there is excellent mutual intelligibility among the speeches of all groups and also with that of the northern Yakut. All Dolgan, except those of very advanced years, have a good command of the Russian language, and some individuals also speak Nganasan and Evenki. Until recently there was no written Dolgan language. In 1973 the first book in the Dolgan language was published, printed in the Yakut alphabet. Beginning in the fall of 1990 instruction in the Dolgan language was introduced in lower school grades. A Dolgan primer, developed for the purpose, is now in use.


Dolgikh, B. O. (1963). "Proiskhozhdenie Dolgan" (Origin of the Dolgan). Trudy Instituta, Etnografii AN SSSR 84:92-141.

Gracheva, Galina N. (1984). "Ekspeditsiia k vostochnym Dolganam" (Expedition to the Eastern Dolgan). Polevye Issledovaniia Instituta Etnografii, 1980-1981, 149-158.

Popov, A. A. (1964). "The Dolgan." In The Peoples of Siberia, edited by M. G. Levin and L. P. Potapov, 655-619. Translated by Stephen P. Dunn and Ethel Dunn. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Originally published in Russian in 1956.

GALINA N. GRACHEVA (Translated by Lydia T. Black)

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