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Seto People (Estonia)

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: estonia | seto |
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image by Le Thanh-Tam, 12 August 2006

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You can see this flag at <> and <>.
Le Thanh-Tam, 12 August 2006

Here is a photo which appeared on the cover of "Columbia College Today" March/April 2008 issue. The cover photo and story were about Toomas Hendrik Ilves, class of '76, now president of Estonia. He is shown carrying the flag of the Seto people: white with a "Scandinavian cross" in a traditional folk pattern, similar to that reflected in the gentleman's tunic to the upper right of the photo. For more detail on the Seto folks see wikipedia.
Al Kirsch, 17 March 2009

English wikipedia deals laconically with Seto people: "Setoland (In Estonian "Setumaa", in Seto "Setomaa") is region south of Lake Peipus and inhabited by the seto speaking Setos. Seto language belongs to south Estonian dialect of Estonian language. The historic range of Setomaa is located on territories of present day Estonia and Russia. Estonian Setomaa presently consists of lands in Põlvamaa and Võrumaa Counties located in southeastern Estonia and bordering Russia."
Estonian wikipedia shows the Arms and flag and elaborates a bit more.
Viktor Lomantsov has a flag and short text (in Russian) on his <> site.
Seto people are recognized ethnic minority group in Estonia and, presumably, in Russia too.
The Peace Treaty of Tartu (February 2, 1920) between the Republic of Estonia and the USSR assigned all of Setomaa/Setumaa to Estonia including its capital - Petseri/Pechora. On August 23, 1944, the Pskov Oblast' was created and the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of RSFSR incorporated 8 districts of Setomaa/Setumaa (including the city of Petseri/Pechora) into that Oblast' (Pechorskiy Rayon), thus dividing the Seto people between RSFSR and Estonian SSR.
The number of Setos is estimated at 10,000. In Russia, according to 2002 census, 197 people declared themselves of Seto nationality. Setos in Estonia consider their language a separate one, not just a dialect of Estonian.
In 2009, UNESCO placed the Seto language on the list of the endangered ones.
Vast majority of Setos are Eastern Orthodox as opposed to the Lutheran Estonians.
There was an earlier flag in use by Seto people since 1992 until the adoption of the current flag in 2007. Under that flag the Setos were demanding reunification of their ancestral lands within Estonia, but to no avail. There was also a second version with the much broader red stripes.
The old and the new flag recalls the ornamentation of the Seto traditional costumes.
Here is a chart illustrating the evolution of the present flag:
Chrystian Kretowicz, 17 March 2009

Previous Flag

image by Chrystian Kretowicz, 17 March 2009