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The Permyak Komis

They call themselves komi, komi-permjak, (in plural komijez, komi-permjakjez).

The Permyak Komis live in the Komi-Permian Autonomous District (32,900 sq. km., capital city Kudymkar) of the Perm Province, in the north-western part of the Perm and Kirov provinces of the Russian Federation, and in many parts of Siberia (Tyumen Province). The Permyak Komis include also the Yazva Komis or Krasnovishersk Permyaks, who live in the north-western part of the Perm Province.

Turning Points in the History of the Permyaks

1472-1505 - the Permyaks are converted by force into Orthodoxy and subjected to the Grand Duchy of Moscow; beginning of colonisation and Russification;

16th c - the Permyak-inhabited areas become the base for the Russian conquest of Siberia and stopover of colonisation; the Komis are forced to retreat from the pressure of the advancing colonists, part of them join the wave;

early 18th c - Emperor Peter the Great grants the Russian great landowner Grigori Stroganov the greater part of the Permyak-inhabited areas as his 'eternal and hereditary demesne'; the Permyak Komis become serfs;

1861 - the uprising of the Permyaks against the servitude to the Stroganovs is crushed in blood (38,000 out of 59,000 Permyaks were serfs to the Stroganov family);

1925 - foundation of the Komi-Permian Autonomous District;

1930s - most of the Permyak intellectuals, including the authors of the Permyak Komi school textbooks, scientists, researchers and pioneers of the Permyak Komi national literature, are killed or detained in prison camps;

1960s - beginning of a massive emigration of the Permyaks from their traditional settlements.

For decades the Permian Autonomous Region has been regarded only as the source of raw materials. Therefore the public services and commodities in the area are in a very poor condition and the young people are leaving in great numbers. For an example, between 1959 and 1979, 79,000 Permyaks or 1/3 of the population left the area. Young people are losing the knowledge of their mother tongue, inasmuch as they have lost contact with their native settlements. There were 161,000 people living in the territory at the time of the 1989 census, of whom 61.4% were Permyaks. In the rural areas, the Permyaks are in the majority and their numbers there have increased even more, as the non-Permyaks leave the villages at a greater rate than the Permyaks do. Russification of the Permyaks in their territory takes place at a quick pace, especially in the administrative centres and bigger towns. The use of the Permyak language has been deleted from communal use, it is not taught even in many of the so-called 'national' schools. In fact, the Permyak national school has practically ceased to exist. In 1989 there were 23 national secondary schools and 23 primary 8-year national schools in the Perm territory, but even those use the name symbolically as the curriculum follows that of the Russian schools and the Permyak language is not taught in them. Only 22% of the Permyak children were learning the native language in 1989. The Permyaks hold their native language in low esteem. Since 1958 there has been no newspaper published in the Permyak language. The regional newspaper is printed in Russian and only occasionally an article will appear in the Permyak language. Since 1990 the local radio broadcasts only 40 minutes of programmes in the Permyak language weekly. The publication of books in the Permyak language has practically ceased.

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