Russian Federation: in the southwest of the Republic of Dagestan, on the right bank of the River Andi-Koisu.
Estimated total number: between 4,000 and 6,500 (data from 2000).
The Tindis are one of the many small ethnic groups of the Republic of Dagestan. As is the case of the other Andi and Dido peoples, their traditions and culture are very similar to those of the Avars, due to their common history since the times of the Avar Khanate, of which the territory of the Tindis was part.
The main factor that distinguishes the Tindis from the other peoples in their vicinity is their language, which they have preserved thanks to their isolation in the mountains. The Tindis live in five small, remote villages in highly inaccessible locations in southwest Dagestan, on the middle reaches of the River Andi-Koisu and the adjacent mountains.
Tindi is part of the Andi group of the Avar-Andi-Dido branch. While the language is not usually deemed to have dialects, some linguists have identified two, namely Tindi and Angida-Aknada. Tindi is very closely related to two other tongues from the Andi group, specifically Chamalal and Bagvalal, so much so that the latter and Tindi were formerly classed as dialects of the same language.
During the Soviet era, the two processes that had the greatest effect on the traditional lifestyle of the Tindis were collectivisation and cultural revolution. While the Soviet regime eroded the Tindis' traditional isolation, schooling contributed to reducing their language's survival prospects, as the education system imposed on them involved studying in Avar in primary school and in Russian from secondary school onwards.
Tindi is an oral language with no written tradition. No standard written form of Tindi has ever been created and the tongue is not taught at schools. The Tindis use Avar as a literary language, and most of them are bilingual in Tindi and Avar.
The loss of the Tindis' territorial isolation and migration to the lowlands, where Avar or Russian is spoken, have resulted in the Tindi language only being used in domestic settings nowadays, with Avar or Russian being used for all other communication. Like all the other Dagestani languages with few speakers, Tindi is thus facing serious problems in relation to its survival and is potentially in danger of becoming extinct.
Very little linguistic research has been carried out on Tindi, a language first referred to in works from the 19th century. Likewise, recordings of spoken Tindi are in short supply.