Soyot

As other peoples in the Taiga zone, Soyot of the Buryat Republic used reindeer for riding, transportation and for hunting. With the arrival of Sakha, Russians, and Buryats (who also used reindeer for riding, but did not herd them) a cattle breeding culture and language came to predominate over Soyot reindeer herding.

Reindeer still provided Soyot with transport, milk, dwellings and clothing. The 1930’s however were a very challenging time for the Soyot. They were lumped together as a people with Buryat, and their reindeer were collectivised. In the 1960’s reindeer husbandry was claimed to be unprofitable and disbanded and they lost all their reindeer. The last decade has seen a revival of Soyot identity coupled with an attempt to reintroduce and revitalise reindeer husbandry, which has proved to be challenging due to predation, a lack of resources, disease and the loss of traditional knowledge.

Currently, there would appear to be approximately 20 people practicing reindeer husbandry with perhaps 30 – 50 reindeer. As with the Tofalar, it seems likely that the Soyot will completely lose their connection with reindeer without a sustained program of support.

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