Nagaybak’s ethno-distinctive features are the Orthodox faith, the Tatar language and the belonging to the Cossacks. Since its foundation Nagaybak fortress in Orenburg province began to colonize the newly arrived christened foreigners of the Southern Urals. All residents received a new name – "New-christianized". In 1842 1 781 Nagaybak’s Cossacks with their families were resettled in the three districts of Orenburg province, and formed three different groups with their own destiny.

After the resettlement, the Nagaybaks were open to different religious influences: Muslims saw the opportunity to persuade the Nagaybaks to Islam, while Christians feared their rejection of Orthodoxy. The rivalry among the Orthodox and Muslim preachers for Nagaybak’s identity grew after the publication of the decree “on toleration” allowed the Nagaybaks to choose their religious beliefs.

The missionary activity of the Orthodox and Muslim preachers was a key in the subsequent self-determination of the Nagaybaks. When constructing of religious identity of the Nagaybaks, a special understanding of themselves and their faith developed. In virtue of the successful actions of the Islam devotees, the southern group changed not only its religious worldview, but also ethnic identity. Today, their descendants call themselves Tatars and denied the relation with the Nagaybaks; many people don’t believe in news of the relocation of the Nagaybaks in the 1840s. Among the residents of the northern group the indifference to religion and rituals may be noted; perhaps, due to the fact that the Orthodox and Muslim preachers did not carry out such large-scale events among the northern Nagaybaks as those in central and southern groups. Finally, in the central group the Orthodox faith was the determining factor in the development of Nagaybak’s ethnicity. The missionaries not only religionized the Nagaybaks, but also emphasized the uniqueness of their culture, so the Nagaybaks strengthened their religious and ethnic identity.

Key words: Nagaybaks, missionaries, Orthodoxy, Orenburg diocesan committee, Muslims, religious rivalry, foreigners, baptism, Tatars

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About the author


Svetlana Yu. Belorussova ­– Junior research associate of the Sector of Ethnohistory, Institute of History and Archeology (Ural Branch of SB RAS);

16 Sofia Kovalevskaya str., Ekaterinburg, Russia, 620137; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.