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Oral tradition indicates that the Yakuts - or Sakha as they call themselves - migrated north from the Central Asian steppes to the shores of Lake Baikal in the 10th century CE. They intermarried with the native population and established a nation along the Lena river, having diplomatic relations with at least the Chinese, the Mongols, and the various Turkic peoples of the region. By the 1620s, Cossacks had arrived in Yakut territory as agents of an expansionist Russia, eventually subduing the Yakut kings and securing Russian hegemony over Yakutia. Numbering about a million today, the Yakuts make up roughly half of the population of the vast Sakha Republic of Russia's Far Eastern district.