Introduction / History Kist people belong to the larger Caucasian ethnic group called Vainakh; just like the Chechens from Chechnya and the Ingush from Ingushetia. All three peoples, Chechens, Ingush and Kists, are Vainakh people and share similar cultural features. The term "Kists" refers to ethnic Chechens who came from Chechnya to settle in Pankisi Gorge in the 18th century. It is the name that the Georgians originally gave them. The Kists have now become Georgian citizens; they speak Georgian and bear Georgian surnames.
Where are they located? The Kist community remains quite small and are scattered across northeast Georgia, Pankisi Gorge and some adjoining lands of the provinces of Tusheti and Kakheti. Currently there are six Kist villages in Pankisi: Duisi, Dzibakhevi, Jokolo, Shua Khalatsani, Omalo (different from the village of Omalo in Tusheti), and Birkiani.
What are their lives like? The Kist community also managed to preserve its original Chechen dialect, culture and traditions. Most members of the community are bicultural and bilingual, and a large number have also lived in Chechnya at some point. Kist people are Caucasian mountaineers. They are proud people, honest and fair, with a hard, austere, cold character. They don't like expressing their feelings. They know the value of friendship; they are even able to give their life for the other if they are a true friend. They are also very hospitable, and they respect their elders and traditions. Throughout time and until now, traditions like hospitality, friendship, mutual help and blood feud have remained. Kist people are proud to show how they can still respect them while coping with modernity and the changes which come along.