A large number of Russian American Company employees and colonists were Creoles, or the product of an ethnic Russian father with a native (Aleut, Tlingit, etc.) mother. They were established as a distinct estate (social class), with different rights and responsibilities than the groups to which their parents belonged.

Admixture had already occurred across Siberia, resulting in Creoles of Yakut and Kamchadal origin who voluntarily entered Company service rather than being born in the colonies. Did they receive the same treatment as mixed children born in the American settlements?

2 Answers 2


An important point for the answer to this question - the entity governing the Russian America was the Russian American Company (RAC), not the actual government structures of Russian Empire.

The act legalising distinction of creoles from Russians was passed in 1821, and the aim of that act was to increase the population of lands controlled by RAC - Russian workers had to return to Russia when their passports ran out, but their children (according to this act) had to work for the Company for at least 10 years before gaining freedom of movement. In exchange, they were given several privileges.

The RAC effectvely was a "state-within-a-state" with only three "estates" - the workers, the creoles, and the aleutes. These estates were simply social constructs - there are records of aleutes being recategorized as creoles and creoles becoming common Russian sitizens due to promotion within the Company. But this estate structure was limited strictly to territories under RAC control and had no relation to official national politics of Russian Empire.

In Russia proper, on the other hand, children of mixed marriages had nationality of the father, and their mixedness had no effect on their rights whatsoever. Nationality in imperial law mattered little - the only distinction was made between normal sitizens and "inorodtsy" (note that usage of this word was different in legalese and in common speech: former only applied this term to several explicitly named peoples, but in latter it meant "anyone who isn't Russian") - peoples who needed special arrangements for their traditional way of life, like steppe nomads: they were given special lands protected from settlement by other peoples and some self-rule by their traditional leaders, but also paid some taxes not levied from common citizens, for example. Non-Russians not classified as "inorodtsy" (and not a part of a group regulated by other special legislation, like Jews), like Germans, Lithuanians and other European nations, had the same legal standing as Russians.


1) Тихменев П. А. "Историческое обозрение образования Российско-Американской компании и действий ее до настоящего времени"// Москва, Рипол Классик, 2014

2) Николай Вахтин, Евгений Головко, Петер Швайтцер "Русские старожилы Сибири: Социальные и символические аспекты самосознания"// Москва, Новое издательство, 2004

  • Great answer. I assume that children inherited their social estate from their father too; by "nationality" do you mean different sorts of "inorodtsy"? Nov 17, 2017 at 5:57
  • @AaronBrick I added some info on national policies of Russian Empire, does that answer your question? Nov 17, 2017 at 7:10
  • @Danila Note that en "nationality" is quite different from ru "национальность" (better word would be "ethnicity"). Nov 17, 2017 at 11:28
  • Yes, @DanilaSmirnov! Spasibo. Nov 18, 2017 at 1:36

According to Lydia Black's "Russians in Alaska" (pp. 215):

The Russian usage [of creole] adheres to descendants of persons not native to the New World and was never applied to Russian citizens outside of Alaska, no matter what their biological parentage, no matter where born.

I used the word "creole" to ask the question, but apparently it does not apply in Siberia, at least by Black's definition.

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