Chelkans (ku-kizhi (ku-kiši), lebedints, chalkantsy) - Turkic-speaking people living compactly in the Altai Republic, the villages of Kurmach-Baigol, Suronash, Maysk, Biika, Chuika, Turachak of the Turachak district and in the city of Gorno-Altaysk, as well as Khakassia and the Kemerovo region.
The population censuses of the Soviet period (except 1926) included Chelkans as part of the Altaians. In 2000, the Chelkans were classified as indigenous small-numbered peoples of the Russian Federation (Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 255 of March 24, 2000). The All-Russian Population Census of 2002 took them into account as a separate nationality with its own language. According to the All—Russian Population Census of 2010, the number of Chelkans is 1,181 people.
The Chelkan language belongs to the Northern Altai languages (the Turkic group of the Altai language family) or is an adverb (dialect) of the Northern Altai (Kumandin-Chelkan) language. Until 2014, the language was unwritten.