Tofalar in Russia

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Tofalar
Country: Russia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 700
World Population: 700
Primary Language: Russian
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.50 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Ural-Siberian
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Tofalar people are also known as the Tofa or Tof people. Their language is Turkic based, but it is also related to the languages of other local tribes.

Until the communist era, the Tofalar people were reindeer herders and hunters. They never developed modern ways of trapping game; instead they relied on pitfalls.

Their families were patrilineal, meaning that they traced their descent from the father's line. They did not marry within the same clan. They were nomads, and each clan herded in a particular place. At times they worked together for their common needs.

Their food included the milk and meat from reindeer as well as meat from geese, ducks, and wild animals that they hunted. Part of their economy has been related to furs and skins. They would trade furs and skins for flour, alcohol, salt, sugar, tea, and cloth.

Where Are they Located?

The Tofalar people live in the eastern Sayan Mountains near the Nenet people.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Russian communists put a stop to their traditional lifestyle and forced them on to permanent villages with Russian-style wood houses. This situation allowed them to farm potatoes and other root vegetables. Today they are involved with cooperative fur farming. Others are shepherds or common laborers.

They did not have a written language until 1989. At that time schools included instruction in the Tofalar language. This might keep their language from dying out like those of many of the other tribes of Russia.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Like the other tribal peoples of this region, they are shamanistic. This means that they believe in a host of spirits that will only respond to the shaman.

What Are Their Needs?

The Tofalar people need to have the chance to advance their economy through higher education.

Prayer Points

Pray for the lives and culture of the Tofalar people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them.
Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Tofalar people for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing the hearts of the Tofalar people would be open and ready to follow Him.
Pray for the spiritual lives of the Tofalar people to become fruitful as they follow Christ.
Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.

Text Source:   Keith Carey