The article revisits the national and territorial delimitation of the northeastern regions of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) in the 1920s and early 1930s. On the example of the Yakut Autonomous Republic within the RSFSR, the authors present a complex vision of early Soviet nationality policy that problematizes the existing interpretations of the postimperial accommodation of diversity by territorial ethnofederalism. The ongoing historiographic debate about early Soviet nationality policy is framed by the competing visions of its primary subjects: prerevolutionary national elites or the Bolshevik regime and the experts in its service. The article uncovers the importance of the economic regionalization debate in disputes about "indigenization" and territorial national autonomy politics in the 1920s and early 1930s as a factor that is inseparable from national projects. It equally affected the reasoning of politicians and experts at the local level and in Moscow. Specifically, the article explores the negotiation of borders of Yakut (Sakha) national territorial autonomy in the context of the economic regionalization debate in the Soviet Union and in the framework of the relationship between the Soviet center, regional authorities of the Far Eastern region and Yakut Autonomous Republic, and activists of smaller Eastern Siberian nationalities. The article provides a detailed discussion of ambiguous applications of the category of indigenous peoples in the regional context and in the framework of early Soviet politics, showing that Yakut claims of indigeneity were often countered by the promotion of smaller Siberian indigenous peoples by the Far Eastern regional authorities.


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pp. 97-139
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