Introduction / History The Shorian Tatars are an indigenous Turkic people who live in southwestern Siberia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Mongols conquered central Asia in the 13th century. The Tatar people adopted many aspects of the Mongol culture. A century later Islam came to the Tartars and most of them converted. The Russian Empire took over southwestern Siberia in the late 16th century. The Shors were forced to pay a tax in animal furs. Until that time the Shors’ ability to smelt iron and make iron tools made them valuable to the Mongols. The European Russians came into the area with their better techniques of producing iron. The Shorians went back to fishing, hunting and trapping as their chief means of making a living. In the 19th century, Russians tried to force the Shorians to become Christians. Some left Russia and migrated to the more Muslim friendly area of what is now called Kazakhstan. A small number of Shorian Tatars live in Kazakhstan today.
What are their lives like? Since the 1990s the Shorian Tatars have seen a revival of their culture. They were free again to speak their language, consult their shamans, elect their tribal chiefs and engage in Muslim rituals. The land of the Shorian Tatars is rich with iron ore, coal and gold. Unfortunately, the mining has brought industrial scale pollution to the land, rivers and air. The Shorians have not reaped the benefits of their land’s resources. Some still work as in miners but the mines are owned by others. Many Shorians have become "Russified." Many speak Russian and no longer know or speak the Shorian language. Outside of the urban areas many Shorians retain their language and many parts of their traditional ways. On feast days they recite epic Tatar poems, dance and sing songs about their gods and heroes. Villages elect their chief and make judicial decisions. Throat singing is an ancient musical practice. Shorians tend to marry within their group. They sometimes marry within other Tatar peoples. The bride then joins the clan of her husband.
What are their beliefs? Most Tatar claim to be Sunni Muslims. However, their brand of Islam is heavily influenced by folk religion. A devout Saudi or Egyptian Muslim would see the Tatars as more pagan than Muslim. The Shorians have their own creation myths that they believed before becoming nominal Muslims. The mixture of beliefs continues today. During the time of the Russian Empire some Shorians were forced to convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This action has left a bad feeling towards Christianity as a religion for ethnic Russians, not themselves.
What are their needs? The Shorians need to hear a clear presentation of the good news about Jesus Christ. Isa or Jesus is more than a human prophet. The Shorians would benefit by learning new job skills so they can improve their place in society. The Shorians would appreciate anyone coming to them who values their language and culture.
Prayer Points Pray the New Testament would be translated into the Shorian Tartar language. Pray for a hunger for spiritual truth come to the Shorian leaders and heads of households. Pray the Lord sends workers to the Shorian Tartars in Kazakhstan to tell them about the Lord and His grace. Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Shorian Tartars of Kazakhstan in this decade. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.