>The Yaghnobit people originated from the Sogd, a people dominant in the area until the Muslim conquests in the 8th century when Sogd was defeated. In that period Yaghnobits settled in the high valleys.
>The ancient Sogd fled to the Yaghnobdara Valley to escape the medieval Arab Caliphate, and their direct descendants, the Yaghnobit, lived there in peaceful isolation until the 1820s.
>Until the 20th century the Yaghnobits lived through their natural economy and some still do, as the area they originally inhabited is still remote from roads and power transmission lines. The first contact with Soviet Union in the 1930s during the Great Purge, led to many Yaghnobits being exiled, but perhaps the most traumatic events were the forced resettlement in 1957 and 1970, from the Yaghnob mountains to the semi-desert lowlands of Tajikistan.
>In the 1970s, Red Army helicopters were sent to valleys to evacuate the population, ostensibly because Yaghnobit kishlaks (villages) were considered at risk from avalanches. Some Yaghnobits reportedly died of shock in helicopters as they were moved to the plains. Many were then forced to work at cotton plantations on the plains. As a result of overwork and the change in environment and lifestyle, several hundred Yaghnobits died of disease. While some Yaghnobits rebelled and returned to the mountains, the Soviet government demolished the empty villages and the largest village on the Yaghnob River, Piskon, was removed from official maps. Officials also destroyed Yaghnobit religious books, the oldest of which was 600 years old. Yaghnobit ethnicity was officially abolished by the Soviet government.
>Since 1983, families have begun to return to the Yaghnob Valley. The majority of those that remain on the plains tend to be assimilated with the Tajiks, as their children study in school in the Tajik language. The returnees live through the natural economy, and the majority remain without roads and electricity.
>The Yaghnob Valley comprises approximately ten settlements, each housing between three and eight families. There are other small settlements elsewhere. The upper Yaghnob River Valley was protected by an until recently almost impenetrable gorge. They also live in and about the Amu Darya River, the Yaghnob River, the Yaghnob Valley, the Qul River, the Varzob rivers and the town of Anzob.