Northern Peoples (Malochislennye narody severa, literally, “numerically small peoples of the north”) constitute a distinct legal category of native peoples who live in the north, number less than fifty thousand each, and pursue traditional ways of life. During the early Soviet period, such a category was created as the focus for a special set of policies, informed by the state’s belief that, due to the “backwardness” of these peoples, they needed special protection and help to reach the stage of communism. The number of peoples belonging to this group varied over time, but at the end of the Soviet period it included twenty-six peoples: Sami, Khanty, Mansi, Nenets, Enets, Nganasan, Selkup, Tofalar, Evenki, Even, Yukagir, Chukchi, Chuvans, Eskimos, Aleut, Koryak, Itelmen, Dolgan, Ket, Negidal, Nanai, Ulchi, Oroki, Orochi, Udege, and Nivkhi. Together, these peoples numbered slightly under 182,000 in 1989.