Tofalar - Sociopolitical Organization

The Tofalar never had political autonomy. Their nomadic groups were always distant from social, political, and cultural centers; they were always in a dependent, subordinate position. In the Middle Ages they were subject to the Mongol khans and paid tribute to them. Later, Western Buriat princes subjugated them, and they remained vassals until union with Russia in the seventeenth century. Self-government first appeared among the Tofalar in 1922 when their clan soviet was organized. In 1927 the Karagas Clan Soviet was separated into a special national entity. In 1930 the Karagas native council was formed, which, in 1934, began to be called the Tofalar National Soviet—the people were given back their genuine name. In 1939 this soviet was changed into the Tofalar National District, which functioned until 1950, when it was disbanded and two village soviets were created in its place: the Tofalar and Verkhnegutar, each subordinate to the Nizhneudin raispolkom (district administration). This administrative division has been preserved to this day.

Conflicts. The Tofalar have always been a peaceful people who did not wage war with their neighbors. On the contrary, more powerful neighbors were always conquering them. To escape conflict, the Tofalar often practiced nomadism high in the mountains, where they waited until the trouble passed. Thus it was during the civil war, in which they did not participate. But in 1941 almost all male adults volunteered for military service despite the fact that they lacked weapons ( bronya ). In the war they proved themselves able fighters and snipers.

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