Teleut in Russia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Teleut or Altai people live in the Altai Mountains of Central Asia. These mountains are located where the borders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China meet. The traditional occupation of the Teleut is nomadic animal husbandry. A family’s wealth was determined by its number of sheep, goats, cattle and horses. The area where the Teleut live was annexed by Russia in 1869. Russian Orthodox missionaries tried to evangelize the Teleut but had little success.

A New Testament and the JESUS Film are available in the Southern Altai language that the Teleut speak. Teleut adults are also able to speak Russian.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Altai region is one of the most inhospitable and harsh places in all of the earth. Temperatures regularly plummet to minus 50 Celsius degrees during the long winter months to 40 degrees in the summer. Rich, virgin forests cover the slopes of steep mountains that rise over 4,000 meters (13,120 ft.) above sea level. Teleut men spend the summer months hunting and fishing to store up supplies for the winter. Women gather berries and other edible plants in the short summer. Alcoholism is common among indigenous peoples like the Teleut.

Some Teleut have settled down and no longer take care of animals. They work in Russian mines, factories and in the lumber industry. Some of these Teleut speak Russian as their first language. Some have moved away looking for a better life in Russian cities. Some urban Teleut marry outside their group and have been absorbed into the general Russian population.

If present trends continue, the Altai language that the Teleut speak may disappear in a few decades. Young people prefer to speak Russian rather than the language of their grandparents.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Teleut have long been under pressure from the Mongols, Tuva, and Kazaks who inhabit the Altai area, to convert to Tibetan Buddhism or Islam. Some Teleut have become secular in recent decades as a result of the Soviet education.

Many Teleut still practice the shamanism and animism of their ancestors. The shaman offers spells and amulets to protect the people from evil spirits that inhabit the objects of nature. The Teleut reverence the spirits of their ancestors.

Only a tiny number of the Teleut claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

What Are Their Needs?

The Teleut need to see the love of Christ shown to them in practical ways. Medical teams can bring modern medicine to the Teleut who practice the nomadic lifestyle. Most Teleut have never heard and clear presentation of the gospel. Christ alone can forgive their sins and free them from their fear of evil spirits.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Teleut of Siberia.

Pray that the few Christians among the Teleut would grow the faith and share the good news with their families and friends.

Ask the Lord to move the Teleut to read the New Testament.

Pray for a growing discipleship movement among the Teleut in this decade.

Scripture Prayers for the Teleut, Altai in Russia.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Teleut
People Name in Country Teleut, Altai
Natural Name Teleut
Pronunciation Tel-oot
Population this Country 2,700
Population all Countries 2,800
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Altai; Northern Altai; Southern Altai; Telengut; Tielingute; White Kalmuck
People ID 15323
ROP3 Code 109928
Country Russia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country KAltay, Gorno-Altai Ao mountains, along Mongolia and China border.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Russia
Region Europe, Eastern and Eurasia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country KAltay, Gorno-Altai Ao mountains, along Mongolia and China border..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Language Altai, Southern (2,700 speakers)
Language Code alt   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Altai, Southern (2,700 speakers)
Language Code alt   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Altai, Southern

Primary Language:  Altai, Southern

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes
Bible-New Testament Yes  (2003-2017)
Bible-Complete No
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Altai, Southern
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime
General Article: A secure path for the Altai
General Gospel resources links
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file
Text / Printed Matter "My First Bible" print & digital book and app
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Altai, Southern
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.00 %)
3.00 %
Ethnic Religions
97.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
100.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2022  Operation China, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more