(Own names: Iron, Digoron, Tualhg)

A Caucasian people of the North Iranian language group the majority of whom live in the Republic of North Ossetia (Ironston), where they constitute an absolute majority. Until recently 15 per cent lived in Georgia, but many have Red to North Ossetia due to the abolishment of their autonomy in South Ossetia and the war with Georgia. Originally descendants of Iranian speaking tribal federations of mixed origin, the Alans, who came from Central Asia in the fourth century moved further westwards. They formed a strong state-like alliance from the ninth to the twelfth centuries and became a leading force with of the Don River during the Middle Ages. The Ossetes became Christians early on. Under Mongol rule, they were pushed towards and over the Caucasus mountains, where they mixed with other Caucasian groups and successively formed three territorial entities each with different developments. Digor in the west came under Kabard and Islamic influence. Tuallag in the southernmost region became part of what is now Georgia, and Iron, the north-ernmost group, came under Russian rule after 1767, which strengthened Orthodox Christianity considerably. Most Ossetes today are Christians. Russia developed the mining industry in the mountains of Ossetia and the urban centre of Vladikavkaz. Ossetes were strongly involved in the civil war 1918-20. In the North, Ossetes became part of the Mountaineers Republic 1920-4 when they received their own Autonomous District, the status of which was upgraded to Autonomous Republic in 1936. Ossetian language schools existed until the late 1960s. In the south, Ossetes received an Autonomous District within Georgia in 1922. Since 1965 Russian has been the only administrative language. Two major conflicts ravage Ossetes. In 1%9 the South Ossetian Popular Front, Ademon Nykhas, opted for a reunion with North Ossetia due to increasing threats of Georgianization. This led to the first case of martial law and bloodshed. Georgia abolished Ossetian autonomy. During the following armed conflict, most South Oset villages were burnt down turning the population into refugees in North Ossetia. Many moved to the areas where the Ingush minority of North Ossetia was settled. North Ossetia had received part of Ingush territory in 1944 after the Ingush had been deported, and many Ossets were forcibly moved firm the high mountains to this area. Since the return of the Ingush, conflicts over the right of residence have been on the agenda. In 1992 Ingush had to leave Ossetia after severe clashes. This dispute is in the process of arbitration.

Editor note: This information is taken from "The North Caucasus: Minorities at a Crossroads" written by Helen Krag and Larsh Funch.

Abkhaz (Absua)
Adyge and Cherkess
Balkar (Malkarli)
Dargin (Dargua)
Ingush (Ghalghai)
Kabard (Kebertei)
Karachai (Karachai)
Kumyk (Kumuk)
Lak (Ghazi-Qumuq)
Lezgi (Kyurin)
Mountain Jews-Tat    (Djohur or Chufut)
Nogai (Nogai)
Ossets (Iron,
   Digoron, Tualhg)

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