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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2015 year, number 2

THE POWER AND NEWLY-BAPTIZED SIBERIAN PEOPLE: SEARCHING FOR CONSENSUS

A. A. Lyutsidarskaya
Institute of archeology and ethnography of Siberian branch of Russian academy of sciences, 630090, Novosibirsk, Lavrentiev av., 17
Keywords: aboriginals, serfs, colonization, baptism, pioneers, citizenship, Russian state, Siberia, service men, tribute

Abstract

Moscovia tsarist government began to develop a huge trans-Ural territory populated by various Siberian ethnoses who were pagans from the Orthodox Russian viewpoint in the XVI century. Indigenous population of Siberia was at different stages of social development and had a mixed reaction to the advent of Russian Cossack detachments. The tsarist government faced some challenging tasks: to make the peoples of Siberia subjects of the Russian tsar, to make them pay taxes; to stop internecine clashes among different tribes, and to begin missionary work. Only efficient solution to these problems could lead to a successful colonization of the region. However, that vast area was in need of human resources, which were clearly inadequate and not sufficient. Therefore, the central government would give favorable consideration to employing those aboriginals who had been baptized into Orthodoxy. Baptized aborigines were automatically placed on the same level with the Russians regardless of their ethnic origin. In the contemporary texts such people were called newly-baptized (novokreshcheny). Newly-baptized aboriginals often achieved high positions in the military and administrative services. Most of them served as ordinary Cossacks or were engaged in economic activities while being employed in the public service. Many baptized aboriginals due to the capture or sale of their children fell into servile dependence on the Russian military or commercial population. Children constituted a majority of those who were placed in a dependent position due to the fact that they were easier to adapt and to adopt new cultural traditions in the future. The Siberian authorities did not hinder these processes. Incorporation of aboriginal Christians in the state structures had a positive effect on the relationship with indigenous people, and contributed to stabilization and interpenetration of different cultures. An active penetration of the newly-baptized aboriginals into the social structures of Siberia continued up to the first third of the XVIII century, and then began to decline primarily due to the natural growth of the Russian Siberian population and migrations from different regions of Russia. The absence of serfdom and relative legal freedom made Siberia an attractive place. In general the Imperial policy towards the indigenous peoples of Siberia was that of maneuvering and searching for compromises.