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Xibe people living in Xinjiang are Qing dynasty colonists in the region. They clearly speak the same language as the Manchu did, which bears a question: Are the Xibe and Manchu people the same ethnic group? If not, how different were they socially, genetically and maybe linguistically?

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Hmm. They are definitely closely related, in all the aspects you mention: cultural, ethnically, linguistically. How and when they diverged though might be an interesting questions. Perhaps that is what you are curious about overall? :-) (Wikipedia seems to answer much of the other stuff.) –  Noldorin Oct 15 '11 at 18:00
    
@Noldorin: I'd say it was the other way, that the Sibe CONVERGED with the (Jurchen) Manchus. –  Tom Au Oct 18 '11 at 21:26
    
@TomAu, But there is no evidence to suppose this really. On the contrary, they seem to stem from the same people originally, and were "one" at some point in not-too-distant history. –  Noldorin Oct 18 '11 at 22:04
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It depends on how you define "Manchu." The Sibe (Xibe) were NOT the same as the Jurchen tribe, the one that is generally regarded as "Manchu." What IS true is that the Sibe lived in the center of present day Manchuria, next to the Jurchens. By that very loose definition, they are "Manchu."

The Jurchens defeated the Sibe (and others) in 1593, and took over their territory. The Sibe were peacefully absorbed under "Manchurian" (Jurchen) rule, and redeployed to Xinjiang, in China's northwest, where they were needed as a buffer against Russia.

The Xibe language has eight vowel distinctions compared to six for the Manchu. But their written language is a modified form of the Manchu, and overall, it can be considered a dialect of Manchu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xibe_people

So one can say that the Xibe people are "similar to" (but not the same as) the Manchu people.

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+1 Funny that you are talking about the Sibe people as being "redeployed". –  Cerberus Oct 26 '11 at 0:10
    
@Cerberus: That probably wasn't great for the Sibe. But better than the alternative. –  Tom Au Oct 27 '11 at 14:31
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