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BuryatsThe Buryats are a Mongolian people of Southern Siberiawho belong to the Central Asian type of the larger Mongolian ethnic group. Their primary settlement area is located east and west of Lake Baikal, in the Sayano-Baikal Mountains, in East Transbaikalia, and in the southeastern part of the central Siberian plateau. The Buryats who live in the area west of Baikal are often called Prebaikalians; and east of it - Transbaikalians.

The Buryat language belongs to the northern subgroup of the Mongolian branch of the Altai language family. It can further be divided into numerous dialects in the different regions of Buryatia.
Livestock husbandry, the main occupation of the Buryats from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century, has determined their way of life as well as the characteristic features of their material and spiritual culture. In the 17th century nomadic (in Transbaikalia) and semi-nomadic (in Prebaikalia) cattle breeding by and large defined their livelihood. Hunting and agriculture only played a subsidiary role, and the level of development largely depended on raising livestock. The traditional dwelling of the Buryats is the felt yurt. Meat and dairy product dishes dominate their traditional cuisine.

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Old believersThe Old Believers –descendants of the dissenters (Raskolniks) – are a group of Russian peoples living in Transbaikalia. A significant part of them lives in the Bichurskii, Tarbagataiskii and Muhorshibirskii regions of the Buryat Republic in Russia. However, Old Believers also live in other regions of Buryatia (Chitinskii region), in the USA (Alaska and Oregon) and in Poland.
During the reign of Tsar Alexei Mihajlovich in the middle of the 17th century, the Russian Orthodox Church experienced a schism. After the reforms in the years 1653-1660, the church officially accepted the changes of patriarch Nikon.
Conservative dissenter,- or Old Believers, are defined as the part of the Russianpeople who refused to accept the reforms and continued performing old ceremonies and praying habits. Because of their dissent, they became subjects of persecution. In order to escape from persecution, the Old Believers were forced to leave their homeland and secretly settle in the Don, Volga and Ural regions.
A mass resettlement of Old Believers began after the decree of Catherine the Great, in which she allowed them to return to Russia and settle in the remote territories of Siberia.

The Old Believers settling in Transbaikalia called themselves "Semeiskie" (originating from the Russian word for family, “semya”) because they migrated with their whole families. They always tried to live independently and far away frompeople of different faiths. From the date of resettlement, they tried to preserve their ancestors’ customs and traditions, closely following the doctrine of their ideological teacher Avvakum.

To this day, the way of life, customs and dialect of the Old Believers have not undergone any major changes. Theirgarb, brightly painted houses and ancient songs are very distinctive and of special beauty. The traditional cuisine consists of vegetable dishes, forest products, meat dishes, as well as delicious beverages prepared from wild berries.

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The Evenks – also called Tungus, are the native population of Transbaikalia. They inhabit the territory from the left bank of the Yenisei River up to the Okhotski Sea and from the polar tundra to the Angara and Amur Rivers. Their origin stems from the Pribaikalia and Transbaikalia regions, from which they spread out to their present-day places of residence.

Prior to modern times, they led a nomadic life. Their main occupations were hunting, fishing, and reindeer breeding. They also mastered blacksmithing, carving, and skin tanning; and made boats, skis, sledges, and domestic utensils from wood and birch bark.

Evenks usually lived in nomadic tents covered with bark in summer and with deerskins in winter. In the beginning of the 20th century, they started living a more settled life. Along with traditional occupations, they also started to develop agriculture and animal breeding. Today, they occupy the northern part of the Buryat republic as well as the Kurumkanskii and Bauntovsky regions.

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