Ewenki - History and Cultural Relations

The Ewenki trace their origin to a people known in Chinese history as "Shiweis" who lived by fishing, hunting, and reindeer breeding in the forests east of Lake Baikal and along the Shailka River, the upper reaches of the Heilong (Amur) River. Their name in Tungus means "forest people." Historically they were often grouped together with Oroqens and Daurs, who share much of their cultural tradition, and referred to as the "Sulun Tribes." They were under the rule of the Manchu even before the Russians invaded the Heilong River valley. After the Manchu took over all of China, the Ewenki were organized by the Manchu into zuos, administrative units based on clan organization. The Manchu extracted marten from them as tributes. After the middle of the seventeenth century, because of Russian invasion, the Qing court moved them to the valley areas of the N en River, integrating them into the banner system and recruiting soldiers among them to serve along the northern borders for defense. At the end of the nineteenth century they were part of the Boxer Rebellion, and later they played an important role in the anti-Japanese war. Wars, diseases, etc., drastically reduced their population. After the founding of the People's Republic, the government of China carried out a policy of social reform and economic development; the Ewenki were gradually integrated into the national efforts for modernization.

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