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INTRODCUTION TO INDIAS NORTH EAST

Unit I: Geography, history, population (tribes and communities), economy, education,


industry, agriculture, natural resources of the region;
Unit II: Profiles of eight states Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya,
Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Manipur North Eastern Council and its integrative role;
Unit III: Government and politics elections political parties, regional party formations
and their histories problems of development; Local governance panchayat raj
institutions, Sixth Scheduled institutions in tribal and hill areas, non-Sixth Scheduled
institutions in Nagaland, traditional institutions, such as, Keban and Buliang in Arunachal
Pradesh;
IV:

Insurgency movements in the region the Naga secessionist movement, the MNF

movement during 1961-1986, the ULFA movement, the tribal armed insurgency in Tripura,
the Bodo movement peace processes since 1953 a brief historical perspective;
V:

North East India and its connectivity with South and Southeast Asia its role as a

corridor, the Asian Highway and the Stilwell road.

Texts:
Pandey, Nishchal N., Indias North-Eastern Region (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian
Studies, 2008)

Baruah, Alokesh, Indias Northeast: Development Issues in a Historical Perspective (New Delhi:
Manohar, 2005).
References:
Bordoloi, D.N., Tribes of Assam (Guwahati: Lawyers, 1998)
Chaube, Sibanikinkar, Hill Politics in Northeast India (Bombay: Orient and Longman, 1993)
Das, Puspita and Namrata Goswami (eds), Indias North East: New Vistas for Peace (New Delhi:
Manas, 2008)
Gait, Edward, A History of Assam (Calcutta: Thacker Spink, 1933).
Hazarika, Profulla, Economic Development and Ecological Balance in Assam (Guwahati: DVS,
2009)
Taher, Mohammad and P. Ahmed, Geography of North-East India (Guwahati: El-Dorado
Publication, 1998)

INTRODUCTION TO INDIAS NORTH EAST


Lecture 1
Introduction
Seven states of the region

Basic statistics

States

Population

Arunachal Pradesh

Size in Sqkms

Literacy rate
Total

Male

Female

10,91,000

83,743

54.63

63.8

43.5

2,66,38,000

78,438

63.3

71.3

53.6.

Manipur

23,89,000

22,327

70.3

80.3

60.6

Meghalaya

23,06,000

22,428

62,6

65.4

59.6

Mizoram

8,91,000

22,089

88.8

90.7

86.7

Nagaland

19,87,000

16,579

66.6

71.2

61.7

Tripura

31,91,000

10,486

73.2

81.0

64.9

3,90,36,000

262,180

68.5

75.5

61.5

Assam

North East India

Demographic character of the region

North East India is basically a tribal region - It is abode of 130 tribes India has total 450 tribes

States

% of tribal population

Arunachal Pradesh

63.66

Assam

12.83

Manipur

34.41

Meghalaya

85.53

Mizoram

94.75

Nagaland

87.70

Tripura

22.36

North East India

54.02

LECTURE 2

Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh

Verrier Elwin, A Philosophy of NEFA (New Delhi: Isha Books, 1957)


S.S. Shashi, Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh (New Delhi: Anmol Publishers, 2006)

The state has 20 major tribes and some more sub-tribes. Some of the major tribes are in
alphabetic order:
Adi, Apatani, Bugun, Galo, Hrusso, Jingpho, Khamba, Koro, Memba, Meyor, Mishim (including Idu,
Taroan, and Kaman), Monpa, Nyishi (including Bangru and Puroik), Sajolang, Sartang,
Sherdukpen, Tagin, Tai Khamti, Tangshang and Yobin

The Adis have two main divisions, (the Bogum and Bomis) and under each there are a number of
sub-tribes. The Minyongs, Karkos, Shimongs, Bomdo, Janbos, Paggis, Pailibos, Bogum, Padams,
Milangs and so on from one group ; while the Gallong and seven other groups constitute another
group of Adis. The Adis by nature are democratic and organised village council called Kebang.
Their traditional dance called Ponung is famous in the whole of Arunachal Pradesh. Dances are
very popular among them. Adi villages are situated generally on the spurs of hills. Polyandy is
unknown but polygyny is practised. Adi women are very good weavers and weave cloth with highly
artistic designs.
The Apatanis are settled agriculturists inhabiting the valley around Ziro-the headquarters of Lower
Subansiri district. The older men-folk tie the hair in top-knots and tattoo the faces. Wearing of
circular nose plugs and tattooing of faces is the most characteristic aspect of ornamentation of
older Apatani women. However, new generation of Apatani men and women have stopped this
practice of tying hair knot, nose plugs and face tattooing since early 1970s. The Apatani are good
cultivators and practice both wet and terrace cultivation. Paddy cum fish culture is very popular
among them. Unlike other tribes of Arunachal their economy is stable. They have a traditional
institution of self governance called Buliang. It is a more or less hereditary at the same time
functions in a democratic way.

The Buguns or Khowas are gentle, hospitable and affectionate people. They are agriculturist and
perform a number of rites and ceremonies for their welfare.
Galo, a small tribal community in Arunachal Pradesh inhabits the Lower Subansiri, Lower Dibang
valley and Siang Districts of the Adis.
Galos follow patriarchy system and the father is the head of the family. Even though the families
are nuclear, they accommodate old parents. The people respect marriage, priests and religion.
Bride wealth, which mainly includes mithun (a species of cattle), pig, dry fish and brass bowls, is
paid in marriages. Widow re-marriage is allowed. Galo villages are ruled by a village headman,
selected by the village council called Keba.
The main festival of the tribe is Mopin, a fesitval celebrated in the month of April, for acquiring
prosperity and wealth. Popir, generally performed by girls, with a lead singer, and Erap are the
main dances of the Galo.
The Hrusso or Akas have a custom of painting their face with black marks. They figured frequently
in old historical records. Their popular belief is that they were related with the Ahom Kings.They are
keen traders and trade, mainly in cloth, blankets, swords etc. They have come to some extent
under both Hindu and Buddhist influence.
The Singphos represent a section of the Kachin tribe of Burma. They live on the banks of
Tengapani and Noa Dehang rivers. They are agriculturists and expert blacksmiths. The ladies are
good weavers too. They follow Buddhism but at the same time believe in a host of spirit. The
NSCN (K) has influence among some these people.
Khambas and Membas inhabiting northern part of West Siang are Buddhist by religion. Polyandry
is prevalent among them. But it is more in vogue among the Membas. Agricultural activities are
popular among them . Millet and Maize are their staple food . They grow cotton and barle also.
Mishmis form the bulk of the population of Lohit, Upper Dibang Valley and Lower Dibang Valley
districts. There are also the Khamtis, the Singphos and a few Adi settlement. The Mishmis are
divided into three main groups namely- Idus or Chulikatas, Digarus or Taroan and Mijus or Kaman.
A section of the Idu Mishmi are also called Bebejia Mishmi . Their women are expert weavers and
make excellent coats and blouses. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. By nature they
are traders. Since very early days the Mishmis had relations with the plains of Assam. The chief
items of trade are deer musk, wild medicinal plants, animal skins , Mishimi tita etc.
The Monpas are simple, gentle and courteous people. They are friendly and possess a rich
heritage of culture. They dress well in artistically designed clothes. Their communal life is rich and
happy. They follow Buddhism and profess Mahayana Buddhism which centre round the Tawang
Monastery. Each house has a small chapel attached to it.

The Nyishi are the largest groups of people inhabiting the major part of Lower Subansiri district.
Their menfolk wear their hair long and tie it in a knot just above the forehead. They wear cane
bands around the waist. They believe that after death the spirit of a dead travels to the 'village of
the ancestors'. The Sulungs or Puroik are considered to be one of the oldest of the tribes in the
area. Their dress and constumes are simple, and the religion is a form of the primitive ' spirit
culture'.
The Sherdukpens are a small tribe. They are good agriculturist but their main interest is trade.
Their religion is an interesting blend of Mahayana Buddhism and tribal magico-religious beliefs.
The Tagins are main inhabitant of Upper Sunansiri district. Their main occupation is agriculture.
Polygamy is customary among them. Their dress is very simple consisting of only one piece of
cloth.
The Khamtis are believed to have migrated from the Shan states of Burma . They are the only
tribe in Arunachal who have a script of their own, They are Buddhist ( Hinayana cult) by religion,
and bury the dead in a coffin. They include Khamyang tribe.
The Wanchos inhabit the western part of Tirap district, bordering Nagaland. They are a carefree,
cheerful and hard-working people. Head hunting was customary with them in the old days. It was
connected with many of the social activities of the tribe. Their society is divided into four classes
the Wanghams ( chiefs ) , the Wangpana , the Wangaue and Wangaas . They have a strict sense
of discipline and the law and order of the society is maintained by a village council. The entire tribe
is divided into about forty confederacies of villages. Tattooing is a social custom among them .
They believe in the existence of two powerful deities, Rang and Baurang. The women are good
weavers but the art is restricted to the members of the chiefs families only. They are expert in
wood carving also.
The Noctes inhabit the central part of Tirap to the east of the Wanchos. They are organized under
powerful chief-those of Namsang and Borduria,They profess Vaishnavism and are disciple of the
Bareghar Satra of Nazira, Assam, Naga Narottam who was a close friend of Shri Ram Dev Ata,
the founder- satradhikar of the Brehar satra, , become his first disciple, Noctes are famous as salt
producers which is their chief item of trade and barter. They are agriculturists. They also cultivate
betel leaves on a commercial scale.
The Yobin, also called Lisus , are a small group of people inhabiting the remote easternmost
corner of the Tirap district. They are simple and gentle people having their own culture, religion,
faith and beliefs and dialect.

Lecture No. 3
In continuation of Lecture 2

Another tribal community named Chakma, an indigenous tribal community living in Chittagong Hills
Tract of present Bangladesh, started coming to Arunachal Pradesh in late 1960s as a
result of displacement caused by the construction of the Kaptai Hydel Dam. The displaced
people, numbering more than 60,000 were also harassed by the then Pakistani army. They
first crossed Mizram and Burma and traveled a long distance to enter Tirap and Changlang
district of present Arunachal Pradesh. They occupied vacant land and started to live in the
two districts and then moved to other places too. Their number is now estimated to be
more than 200,000. The Arunachal Pradesh Students Union has been demanding their

eviction and deportation, while the Chakma people are demanding equal rights of Indian
citizens. With this there has been a tension between the Arunachalis and the Chakmas.

Tribes of Assam

B.N. Bordoloi, Tribes of Assam, Vol. I-III (Guwahati: Lawyers, 1998)


Sipra Sen, Castes and Tribes of Assam (New Delhi: Gyan Publishers, 1999)

Assam has several tribes some of the important tribes are Bodo, Deori, Dimasa, Karbi, Naga,
Madari, Rabha, Mishing, Hmar, Tea Tribe, Santhal, Khamti, Kuki Most of them are Tibeto or
Indo Mongoloid or Burmese origin, and some of them such as Tea Tribes and the Santhals
are Dravidians. They came after tea plantation had been started in the 19 th Century.

Bodos are known to be one of most ancient and indigenous tribes mostly inhabiting in lower
Assam, estimated to have 1.5 million people.

A Bodo woman with her traditional dokhana dress

Tribes of Assam

Santhal women with their traditional dress

Assam is known as the settling ground for many civilizations. Numerous tribal groups have traveled to
Assam through different routes at different points of time and started habitation on vacant land. The process
of their migration is not historically recorded. But it is believed that they came at least two millennium back.
Negritos, Dravidians, Alpines, Tibeto Burmese and Aryans had been the major races that came and dwelled
in ancient Assam. They were considered as the indigeneous people of the state. They are an integral part of
the Assamese society. The tea tribes and the Santhals are, as stated earlier are new migrants whose
migration is a matter of 175 years.
Bodos (estimated to be around 1.5 million) are one of the earliest inhabitants of Assam. They are, however,
not restricted to any specific area of the state and are found in almost all parts of Assam. But the major
concentration of them could be found in the Kokrajhar District. They spearheaded a long agitation for
homeland called Bodoland which came to be known as the Bodo Movement.
Bodoland has been conceived by the Bodos in an area located in the north bank of Brahmaputra river in
Assam in the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh; inhabited predominantly by Bodo language
speaking ethnic group. Currently the hypothetical map of Bodoland includes the Bodoland Territorial Areas
District (BTAD) administered by the non-autonomous Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). The map of
Bodoland overlaps with the districts of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri in the state of Assam. Two
militant organizations National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and Bodo Libertion Tiger Force
(BLT) spearheaded the movement for a state. In March 2003 the BLT accepted the proposal for the creation
of BTAD. One faction of the NDFB has signed ceasefire agreement and has taken recouse to peaceful path
to solve the Bodo homeland issue, the other group known as Ranjan Daimari is hostile to the ceasefire
agreement.
The movement finally led to the constitution of Bodoland Territorial Council Areas comprising Bagsa,
Kokrajhar, Chirang and Udalguri, The Bodos are basically cultivators and are engaged in animal husbandry.
They are also good weavers and their products have reached international market.
The Rava/Rabha is a scheduled tribe of Assam. It is close to Bodo community. The Ravas belong to the
Indo Mongoloid descent and has resemblance to the Bodo tribe.
Karbi tribe, also known as Mikir, usually dwells in the hilly areas of Assam, especially in Karbi Anglong, the
North Cachar Hills, Nagaon, and Kamrup districts of the state.
On the other hand Mishing Tribe hails from Tibeto Burmese and inhabits the districts of Tinsukia, Sibsagar,
Sonitpur, Jorhat and Golaghat, along the banks of River Brahmaputra. Dirugarh and Tinsukia districts of

Assam. There is another tribe called Deori close to the Mishing. They are known to be priestly class.
The Dimasa Tribe lives in the North Cachar and Karbi Anglong District of Assam. A faction of this community
has been demanding a separate homeland for the tribe. An armed movement was started by the Dima Halim
Daogah (DHD) is an offshoot of the erstwhile Dimasa National Security Force (DNSF), which had
surrendered en masse in 1995. The surrendered faction is led by Dilip Nunisa. The other faction was led by
self-styled Commander-in-Chief Jewel Garlossa, who subsequently launched ruthless attack not only on the
pro-talk and surrendered faction but also innocent workers, officers and civilians in the area. He has been
arrested along with some others in Bangalore on June 3, 2009 following the arrest of Mohit Hojai, the Chief
Executive Councillor of the NC Hill Autonomous Council.
In Assam there are other tribes such as Zeme Naga tribe. They are mostly living in NC Hills. There was a
ethnic clash between Zeme Nagas and the Dimasa which started on March 19 and continued for three
months.
There is an educationally advance tribe called Hmar. They live in NC Hills District. They are mostly
Christians
Santhals are one of small tribal community living in Lower Assam, mostly in Kokrajhar district of Assam.
Tiwa or Lalung tribal community is one of the important tribal communities that have resided in Kamrup,
Marigaon and Nagon Districts of Assam.

Lecture 4:

Tribes of Manipur
T.C. Hudson, The Naga Tribes of Manipur (New Delhi: Low Price Publication, 2007)
T.S. Gangte, The Kukis of Manipur (New Delhi: Low Price Publication, 2007)

There are 9 Districts; Imphal valley districts are plain areas, rest is hilly

Geographically small state of Manipur has about 29 tribal communities, each one is small in
number but there presence is felt due mainly to colorful dresses, dances and festivals.
Also in recent time due to inter-tribe conflict of grave nature. The tribes are:
Aimol, Anal, Angami Naga, Baite, Chiru Chothe, Gangte, Hmar, Kabui, Kacha Naga, Koirao, Kom,
Koireng, Lamgang, Lushai, Mao, Maram, Maring, Monsang, Moyon, Paite, Purum, Sema,
Simte, Sukte, Tangkhul, Thadou, Vaiphe Zou. These groups could be broadly divided into
two major tribal groups Naga and Kuki. The most interesting feature of these groups is
that while the Nagas have an inclusive framework the Kukis have exclusive character
resulting in intra-tribe conflicts.
The Maitei community constitutes about 46 per cent of the peopole. The rest are Chin-Kuki tribes,
who were of comparatively late migrators (as late as the 18th-19th century) to Manipur from the
Chin state of Burma compared to other communities in the north and central Manipur. Unable to
handle the flux of the large migrants, the Meitei Maharaja with the help of the British assisted the
Thadous and other Chin-Kukis settle in different parts of the hills, which were not inhabited at that
time. But now-a-days these new migrants claim to be original people of Manipur. The population of
Manipur was very sparse in those days. The Nagas have a concentration in 11 constituencies out
of 60. They are demanding that these areas should be included what is called Nagalim.
Among the Naga tribes of Manipur, the
Tangkhuls were the first to come under
Christianity; therefore, they were more
educated and better adapted to the modern
and Western cultures than other tribes.
Naturally, they became leaders and helped to
establish schools and churches, not only in
Manipur hills but also in Kohima, Makokchung,
and Dimapur in Nagaland state. Although the
various tribes in the north of Imphal Valley are grouped together under a Naga denomination, they
have different languages and customs. Therefore, they had intra-tribe conflict and war before they
were they were bound together by a common faith in Christianity. The Tangkhuls dominated in
various aspects of the Naga political and social fronts. This led to certain anti-Tangkhul sentiments
in Kohima, Dimapur and Makokchung areas in Nagaland, and tried to drive them out of Nagaland
state in mid 1990s. In addition, the Angami and Ao tribes always considered the Nagas of Manipur
inferior to them in their territories specially in Kohima. This led to a demand for Southern Nagaland

by some Manipur tribes. Several Naga NGOs more particularly the Naga Hoho, Naga Mothers
Association and the Church-centric organizations are trying to bring all tribes under the Naga
denomination together.
In the meanwhile, due to population pressure and a scarcity of cultivable land in the hills of
Manipur - topped with historical rival between the Naga tribes and Kukis on their settlement in
Manipur, but not in Nagaland - an ethnic conflict between them erupted. The Thadou Kukis were
surrounded in their villages by Naga villages in most districts except in Churachandpur in the
South. They migrated in large numbers to Churachandpur, which is dominated by the majority
Paite tribe and by a large population of Thadou Kukis as well. This further led to the Paite-Kuki
conflict, which was later reconciled under signed accords by both sides. At the same time, several
Naga groups demanded that all Naga inhabited areas of Manipur should be integrated to
Nagaland, which was not accepted by the Meiteis and other groups. The concept of greater
Nagaland is considered to be a brain-child of the Tangkhuls. A conflict between the Meiteis and the
Tangkhul Nagas has been going on with the question of integration of Naga dominated areas. The
NSCN (IM) has strong hold in the 11 constituencies of Manipur. The Meiteis are against the
concept of Nagalim or integration of Naga areas. There is a religious dimension of the conflict.
While the Meiteis are Vaishnavite Hindus, the Nagas are Christians.
The peoples of Manipur are of the same origin and their traditions are related to each other
regardless of their denominations and should be able to live together harmoniously. The younger
generations of Manipur are well educated and aware of keeping faith to each other. They believe in
peaceful co-existence for all ethnic groups and an economic development for Manipur and its
people.
The communities of Manipur
in alphabetical order are:
Aimol, Anal, Chiru, Chothe,
Gangte, Hmar, Koirao,
Koireng, Kom, Lamgang,
Mao, Maram, Maring, Meitei,
Monsang, Moyon, Paite,
Tangkhul, Tarao, Thadou,
Vaiphei, Zeliangrong (Zemei, Liangmei, Rongmei) and Zou. In addition, Nepali, Bengali, Marwari
and other Indian communities have also settled in the valley. All tribes have their own distinct
languages but in conversing with others they speak Meiteilon. Rice is the staple food for all ethnic
groups of Manipur and meat, fish and seasonal vegetables are favorites. Meiteis prefer fish and
elders usually do not take meat.

Aimol: The aimols are a scheduled tribe of Manipur. They settled at Aimol Khullen at Chandel
District and at Kha-Aimol near Loktak lake and other places in the Senapati district. According to
the 1981 census, they number about 1062 individuals. It is also believed that some migrated in
Mizoram and Tripura. The word aimol means "mountain of crabs" (ai=crab; mol=mountain). Thus,
their legend believes that they came out of mountain like the mountain crabs. They practice both
wet and shifting paddy cultivation in the hill. Some of the crops other than paddy are sesamum,
maize, soyabean, pumpkin, gourd, ginger, tomato, chilly and groundnut. They domesticate mithun
(water buffalo), pig, ox, chicken, etc. Kakching and Pallel are the two important towns for marketing
and trading. Most of the Aimols are now converted to Christianity and identify with the Nagas
although they may be related to the Chin-Kuki group. Due to close proximity, they are also directly
influenced by the Meiteis.
Anal: The Anals are also a scheduled tribe settled in the Southern Manipur hills at Tengnoupal
district. They are known as Pakan among themselves. During migration, they were splitted to Anal,
Lamkang, Moyon, and Monsang tribes. Anal is considered to be one of the oldest Chin-Kuki tribes
of Manipur and belong to the Tibeto-Burman family of tribes. They now identify themselves as one
of the Naga tribes. In 1981, their population was 9,349 living in 45 villages. A pregnant woman in
the Anal community do not work hard and the husband is taboo from planting banana or bamboo
trees. She may not eat double bananas or any creepy plants that bear fruits. Their cultural life is
rich and preserved in traditional folklores and folksongs. The festivals include "Akam" performed to
invoke divine blessings. Kamdon dance is performed during the Akam festival both by man and
woman.
Chiru: They are concentrated in Senapati, Tamenglong and Bishnupur districts of Manipur. Their
manners, customs, and language appear to identify with Kuki origin but their physicque, habits,
hairstyle, and bachelors' quarters are Naga way of life. The word Chiru means the seed of a plant.
Women play an important role in agricultural work, collection of firewood, and fetching water for
drinking and household uses. They practise both shifting and wet cultivation. Fruits like banana,
orange, lemon, and papaya are grown for family consumption and market trading. The main
cottage industries are basket and cane works, weaving, carpentary and manufacture of musical
instruments. Their numbers are about 3,744 persons (1981
sensus).
Chothe: Historians describe the Chothe as Purums as they
settled at a place called Purum in Chandel District. The
term Chothe derives from Kachohte meaning to bring or to
hold a boy. They settle mostly in 10 villages in Chandel
district and their number was approximately 1,607 in 1981.

Agriculture is their main occupation, and they grow cash crops which are sold in Pallel,
Tengnoupal, Kakching and Imphal. The main festival of the Chothe is Harvesting festival
(sasuhang) along with Christmas, New Year, Good Friday, etc. Dance and Music are thier cultual
life both in religious and recreational events. Inter-marriage with neighboring Nagas have made
good alliances with them and they identify themselves with the Nagas.
Gangte: The Gangtes numbered about 7,891 in 1981. The Paite, Vaiphei and Thadou call them
Gangte but Mizos call them Rangte. Their origin is traced in a cave called khul somewhere in the
extreme north. They settle mostly in the Southern part of Churachandpur district. Apeasement of
the village deity was an annual feature before they converted to Christianity. They share folksongs,
folktales and dances with other communities like Paite, Zou, Thadou, Vaiphei and vice versa.
Hmar: According to 1981 census, the Hmars had a population of 29,216 in 35 villages in the
southern region of Manipur, at Tipaimukh and Churachandpur. They speak Hmar language and
converse well in Meiteilon. They also have populations in Cachar, North Cachar and Aizwal district
of Mizoram. They are one of the highly educated Christian communities of Manipur tribes. They
enjoy zu, home brewed rice bear, but Christianity has restricted it and replaced with tea in rituals.
Earlier Hmars worshiped spirits, the mountains, the rocks and rivers. The first Christian missionary
to the Souther Manipur, Watkin Roberts of Wales arrived in 1916 in a Hmar village at Senvon. He
introduced western education among them. That enabled them to gain advantage over others.
Koirao: Koiraos inhabit the mountain ranges in the south of the Mao and Maram but they accept
themselves by the name Thangal. They are concentrated in the Sadar hills of Senapati district.
Their population was just 919 in 1981 census. It is said that Maharaja Pamheiba of Manipur
(Garib niwaz) was a Thangal boy or was brought up within the tribe. They believe that children are
a gift of God and the village maibi will pronounce the birth of a child by saying Haiguiye while
holding a dagger in her hand. In earlier days, they bartered their agricultural products, baskets and
blacksmithy with Meiteis for food, with Tangkhuls for earthern pots and with Kukis for beaded
necklaces. Khullakpa is the chief of the village council known as katammi. Favorite festival is
Linhut tangnit (Seed sowing festival), along with Christian festivals.
Koireng: The Koirengs believe that they originated from a cave. Pathian is believed to be their
supreme God before Christianity. They live in small villlages on the hills to the north of Imphal
valley in Senapati district. Imphal, Iril, and Maklang rivers run through thier villages. The status of
women is relatively high due to their taking part in economic activities. A woman member is also
represented in the village council. They cultivate paddy, maize, sesame, potato, arum and ginger
and traded with the Meiteis. Their number is small (918 in 1981 census) and literacy rates are low
compared to the surrounding tribes.

Kom: The Koms believe that thier ancestors came out of a hole in the earth or Kom. Their
population was 9,830 in 1981 census in 22 villages. Most of the villages are scattered in the
Churachandpur, Tengnoupal and Senapati districts. Their language is to an extent recognised by
the Aimol, Koireng and Chiru. They also have close relationship with the Hmar. The Koms are
easily identified by their way of dressing. They wear a black shawl embroidered in the border.
Koms believe in Pathen, the supreme god and goddess, Lengjai. They are omnipresent and
believe to live in the heaven. The literacy rate is quite high and they actively perticipate in political
activities of the state.
Langang: The Lamgang dialect is quite similar to Anal, Moyon and Monsang of the Kuki-Chin
group of languages of the Tibeto-Burman family. They speak Meiteilon while talking to others. They
address themselves as Kasen. Hiroi Lamgang was a Meitei name used to address them for they
made boat (hi) for the Meitei kings. They settle mostly in the Southern districts of Manipur near
Chakpikarong, Kakching Khunou and scatter in 24 villages. They number is about 3,452 according
to 1981 census. They still lag behind
literacy comared to Moyon, Monsang
and other tribes.
Kuki: The Kukis are also called
Khongjois. They are distributed
widely in Manipur, occupying the
south-western, south and southeastern hills which spread in the
district of Churachandpur,
Tangnoupal district and Sadar hills in the north Manipur. There are different beliefs about their
origin. Some of the Kukis believe their origin is in the north at a place Maikel. Some traces the
Kukis links with Zomi, who migrated from China. The term Zumi is an ancient and historical name
of the Zo ethnic groups (Zo means cold region and Mi means men). With the reference to the
alpine climate the people living on the hills could be named as Kuki. The Kukis who came to
Manipur during 1830 and 1840 were a nomadic race. Some authorities consider them having
traces to Malaya peninsula. There are different groups among Kukis. Those who migrated from
Mizoram are called Mizos and are educationally advanced. Another group of those migrated from
Burma side in 1830 is like the Paite. Manipuris consider Kukis to be of two groups, old Kuki and
new Kuki. The new group of Kukis is the group comprising those who migrated to Manipur during
the region of Raja Nar Singh. The old Kukis of Manipur are the Thadao and Vaipei. The Thadao
group consider themselves the superior clan as compared to others. They are mostly inhabiting the
hills between Churachandpur and Tipai Mukh. Thadaos are divided into larger clans like Thado,

Shingsol, Chongloi, Hangseen, Keepgenand Hankep. The other clans which are consider slightly
inferior are Chongfoot, Telnok, Helting, Mangnoong and Voongtung.
Physical Features
Kukis are of Mongoloid stock. The Men are short as well as medium sized. Their face is broad and
round. The cheek-bones prominently bulged with bulged eye-sockets. Men are physically smart
and thickly fleshy. The skin colour is generally wheatish. The hair is dark and rarely turn gray by age.
Kukis prefer long hair. The woman too have prominent Mongol features. They are generally of
short stature. The face is round but full. The almond shaped deep set eyes are arranged in
prominent bulged eye sockets. The nose is short and particularly flattened at the nostrils. They look
smart with their stout body. The skin colour is white and wheatish in general but some women of
the south-east hills are slightly darkish. Their lips are prominently thick. Their hair is luxuriant and
puffy and coloured deep dark.
Mao: The Maos inhibit the hill ranges to the extreme north of Manipur on Highway 39. The Mao
as such is the village or place and the people are Maomei or Imemei. The Angamis of Kohima call
them as Shipfumei. The literacy rate among tribes in the Mao area are high. They actively
participate in politics at Imphal and several professionals, doctors and engineers come out of this
tribe. Their population was 50,715 in 1981 census. Majority are agriculturists and cultivate terraced
paddy fields. They rear cows, buffallos, pigs, fowls, etc. At present the regional potato farm is
located at Mao and assists the nearby villages in growing more potato through modern technics.
Mao is also a commercial center and station for Tourists, buses, and commercial trucks plying
through the Imphal-Dimapur road. The Mao areas have better communication and electrity.
Maram: They numbered about 16,544 in 1981 scattered in 22 villages in the Senapati District.
They call themselves Maram-mei (people of Maram). The Barak river runs through their territory.
They have close similarity with the Maos, Angami and Koireng and use the same designs and color
combinations of shawls. The community is exogamous and marriage within the community was not
allowed. They intermarry with the Mao, Angami, Zeliangrong, Paomei, Thangal and other Naga
groups
Maring: The Marings had a population of 11, 910 (1981 census) in hilly villages in the Tengnoupal
subdivision in Chandel bordering Myanmar. It is said that they had close relationship with the Meitei
Kings and their name derived from mei (fire) and ring (start or produce). Meitei kings depended on
them during wars with neighbors. There are three mains groups of Marings who identify
themselves with different colors in their clothings: Black, Red, and Red and Black on the border.
The village of Machi is regarded as their original place, which is the center of the Black Marings.

Their language is closer to the Kuki-Chin branch of Tibeto-Burman family although they are
affiliated to the Nagas. They also have many Meitei words used by them. In one time, Haobam
Marak of Imphal was considered to be the settlement of the Marings. The infrastructure in Maring
villages are rudimenatry, and are economically weak. However, they are educational enthusists.
They participate actively in the State politics. If provided adequate road and communication
infrastructure, they will be a very progressive group of tribes.
Meiteis: The Meiteis are distributed throughout the Manipur valley. By rule, any Meitei is not
allowed to own land in the hills while the people of the hill can live anywhere in Manipur. The
Meiteis make up about 46% of the total population of Manipur. Among the Meitei-fold are included
the Vaishanvites, Bamons (Brahmins) and Pangals (Muslims, they came from Bengal in the 16 th
century at the invitation of the monarch), and other schedule caste groups like the Chakpas
(previously called lois) and Thoubal Khunous (previously, Yaithibis). While the Bamons and Meiteis
are Hindus some are Brahmin and most of them are Vaishnavites. Chakpas and other scheduled
Meiteis follow traditional Meitei faith. A large number of Meiteis also follow the traditional Sanamahi
religion at present after the revival of the old Sannamahi faith. Even the Bamons and Hindu Meiteis
worship Sanamahi inside their houses. The Vaishnavite culture of Meiteis and the Ras Lila Dance
is known widely in India and other countries. In addition, Lai Haraoba and Khamba Thoibi Dances
are also popular. The modern game of Polo is originated in Manipur and locally known as Sagol
Kangjei (horse hockey). Meitei Martial arts - Thang Ta - has recently been recognised as one of
the forms of International Maritial arts by the International Martial communities. Since Meiteis are
the dominant community, culturally and economically, Meiteilon (Meitei language) has become to
be known as Manipuri after the name Manipur was introduced in the elsewhile Kangleipak,
Sannaleipak (Land of Sannamahi, not Golden land), Meitrabak, etc. However, Meiteis randomly
refer the word Manipuri among themselves. Manipuri should reserved
for all things associated with the state of Manipur, not only of the
Meitei.
The Meiteis are also primarily agriculturalists. Rice is the staple food.
Fish is a favorite meat for Hindu Meiteis. But, the younger generation
tastes all kinds of meat available in the market. Fruits such as
pineapple, mango, orange, lemon, guava, jackfruit are also cultivated.
Produces like peas, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, etc. are
abundant. The Meitei women control the markets and trades for
traditional textiles and vegetables. Ima (Mother) Market is an
exclusively Women's market of its own kind. The women also take
important roles in safeguarding the communities and their children.
They were effective in blocking alcohol consumption by men through

Meira Paibi (Women Torchbearers) Organisations. But, with the society becoming more complex,
the traditional role of the women are waning. They have not been able to stop the drug addiction of
youths in Manipur. The jobless youth both in the valley and hills are taking up the habit of injecting
drugs, heroin, chiefly available through the Myanmar border trafficking. This has caused alarmingly
high number HIV-infection cases, already full-blown AIDS related deaths have been reported.
Subsequently, it has spread to innocent wives and childrens through marriages. Manipur has one
of the highest rates of HIV infection in India. No mentionable industry is found at Imphal, the capital
city of Manipur or any other towns.
Monsang: It is a small community. The name Monsang is derived from the name of the village
called Mosang by the Meiteis and others whereas they themselves called sirti or southerners. They
live mostly in the Chandel District in five villages namely Liwachaning, Heibunglok, Liwa Sarei,
Japhou, and Monsang Pantha. They speak a similar language with the Anals. They use Meiteilon
while conversing with Tangkhul, Maring, Thadou and other communities. The Monsangs come in
regular contact with other communities through economic activities at Pallel, Kakching, and
Chandel and Imphal. Monsang parents attach great importance to education.
Moyon: Another small community the Moyon themselves are known as Bujuur. Their legend
indicates that they originated from a cave located at Sijjur. They live in 14 villages in Chandel
district and their name derives from one of the villages called Moyon Khullen. Their name is found
in the royal Chronicles as far as 1580 AD such as Mongyamba's time. The Meitei King defeated the
Moyon Chiefs and he was known as Moyon Ngamba or Mongyamba. Their population estimated to
be 1,742 in 1981 census. Marriage is by negotiation (luhong) or elopement (itaen). Their sowing
festival is known as Sachii ichii and harvest festival is Buren Iimpeh. They also believe that they
originated from a cave, known as Khur or Khul. The Moyons attach considerable importance to
education and every village has at one primary school. They converse and read Meiteilon
(Manipuri) very well.
Paite: Demographically strong community the Paite live in Churachandpur district in Southern
Manipur. Along with Thadou, Vaiphei, Gangte, Hmar and others they were refered to as Chin-Kuki
group in the past. At present, they call themselves as Paite and affiliate to Zomi denomination.
They also believed in supreme God Pathian and believed to have originated from a cave or Khul.
Their population estimated to be around 35,959spreading over 125 villages. Jhum cultivation is
their main occupation on the slopes near the villages. They have a strong oral history which has
been shaped by folksongs and folktales telling past history and culture and everyday life of the
community. They are an educated group of tribes and participate actively in local and state politics.

Tangkhul: They live in the Ukhrul district in the east. They believe they migrated from Mekhel
village in Senapati destrict like other Naga tribes. Another popular legend also relate to their origin
and the Meiteis. The Tangkhuls are estimated be about 78,203 (5.5 % percent of the total
population of Manipur). They live in 8 territorial areas in the Ukhrul district and their sub-tribes and
nationalities have distinct languages and dialects. Since the Ukhrul village was chosen by the first
Christian Missionary in Manipur in 1896 for conversion, the people of Ukhrul town dominates the
Tangkhuls and their dialect is a lingua franca among the various Tangkhul tribes. They converse
well in Meiteilon with others. They use Roman script for writing. They are the most educated tribe
of Manipur. Two Chief Ministers (Y. Shaiza and Reishang Keising), Ministers and MLAs of Manipur
belonged to Tangkhuls. NSCN Chief Thuingaleng Muivah belongs to the community. Many of
them have become Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers, Doctors, Engineers, Professors.
They are also leaders in Baptist Church Activities of Manipur. Next to the Meiteis, the Tangkhuls
have the highest number of professionals in Manipur. Like most other communities in Manipur,
most Tangkhuls are also primarily cultivators. Rice is the staple food. Other crops and vegetables
are cotton, millet, maize, arum, chilli, sesame, ginger, tomato, pumpkin, cucumber, beans, etc. Siroi
Kashong famous for Siroi Lily and Kangkhui cave are in the Ukhul district. During World War II, the
Japanese occupied the Tangkhul areas.
Tarao: They are a minor community in the Chandel district. They speak Taraotrong but speak
Meitei well with others. The Taraos were also referred to as Kuki in earlier ethnographic studies but
now they identify with the Nagas. It is said that Maharaja Chingthang Khomba had an orchard at a
place near Pallel and his orange trees were looked after by the Taraos at Komlathabi. They are
basically agriculturists.
Thadou: The Thadou are a schedule tribe of Manipur. They are classified as an Old Kuki Group by
anthropologists. Their communities are dispersed in several districts of Manipur. They are
estimated to be about 73,126 people. The history of this community is found in oral traditions
including folklore and folktales. Their origin traces like other tribes of Manipur to a cave at the origin
of Gunn river (Imphal river). They can be identified by the traditional design of the shawls, which
are marked in black with a few stripes of red. The design is simple and devoid of any geometrical
figures. They speak Thadou language and converse in Meitei with others. The Thadous are nonvegetarians and fond of drinking zu (country wine) made from rice or maize. However, Christianity
has prevented from taking liquor and gradually replaced with tea. The price of a bride is taken in
the form of Mithun, gongs, beads and necklaces, though not practice anymore. Marriage is through
negotiation known as Neila. The groom arrives at the brides residence along with his associates,
followed by a feast. Handicraft, poultry, weaving, and cane work are the traditional crafts of the
Thadous. Although agriculture is the main occupation of many Thadous, the younger generation
has preferred to jobs in government departments and professional fields, and teaching. They

participate actively in local and state politics. Several Ministerial positions are held from this tribe in
the Manipur State Assembly.
Vaiphei: They live in the Churachandpur district
in about 30 villages. They have a population of
around 17,659. Their dialect is Vaiphei and
slightly different from the Gangte, Zou and
Paite. Their speech is closer to Gangte but spell
similar to Paite. They use Roman characters.
They undertake jhum cultivation. They have high literacy rate.
Zeliangrong: The Zeliangrong is a composite group of three related tribes inhabiting in the
Tamenglong district of Western Manipur. The three groups are Rongmei (Kabuis), Liangmei and
Zemei (also called Kacha Nagas). Many Kabui villages are also found in the plains of Manipur,
Assam and few settlements in Nagaland. According to 1981 census they numbered about 47,266.
Their legend also believe that they came out of a cave, which was blocked by a big stone and later
removed by a mithun. The "Kabui" word is considered to be a corruption of Apui meaning mother,
which they worship as goddess, Leimaren. They speak Meitei language well and had close
interactions with the Meiteis of the plains. The Kabui is divided into four exogamous clans:
Kammei, Gangmei, Langmei and Ganmei. The main occupation is cultivation and paractise jhum
system in the hills and wet cultivation in the plains. Some of their crops are maize, soyabean,
pumpkin, gourd, ginger, tomato chilli and groundnut. Carpentary, weaving, basketary are cottage
industries. They are considered to be one of the most skill crafts men of Manipur. The plain Kabuis
have considerable influence of the Vaishnavite tradition and Meitei culture. Facilities of education,
medical care, and employment programs have reach them well and their population consists of
scholars, administrators, teachers, doctors, nurses, entrepreneurs, etc. They are also actively
involved in the political scene in Manipur. After the formation of the Zeliangrong community of the
North East India, they constitute a powerful lobbying community. They prefer Zeliangrong than
Kabui or Kacha Naga.
The Zemi (Zemei) and Liangmei are separated by rivers and mountain barriers and their dialects
are different from one another. Meiteilon is the lingua franca of the people and they use Roman
character. According to their believe the supreme god (Charawang) created the universe and gave
human beings shelter in the caves. Pokrei (a male) and Dichalu (a female) gave birth to four sons.
Their sons and descendents form the Liangmei, Anpuimei, Zemei, Maram, Rongmei, Tangkhul and
Meitei. The history of Manipur reveals that the Zeliangrongs had a close relationship with the
Meiteis. During the Burmese invasion, the Meiteis of the Imphal valley left their homes and took
shelter in Zeliangrong areas. Politically they are active and the "Zeliangrong movement of the

1927-32" led by Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu is well celebrated among the Zeliangrongs. Road
communication to Tamenglong, their headquarter is very poor. The villagers plant potato, giner,
pineapple etc. and cane and bamboo works are their main crafts.
Zou: Zous live close to the Paites and have close similarities. They share many oral traditions,
folklore, dance and music with Paites. They also claim to have originated from a cave or khul
somewhere in the extreme north. Their number is about 11,251 in 1981. The village administration
is at the hands of the village chief. Their economy is low and mostly depend on agriculture and
labor for small wages.

Lecture 5

Meghalaya Tribes
SHM Rizvi and Shibani Roy, Khasi Tribe of Meghalays (New Delhi: BR Publication, 2006)
Shipra Sen, Tribes of Meghalaya (New Delhi: Mittal, 1985)
There are two major tribes in Meghalay Khasi and and Garo.
Khasis are known to be the earliest ethnic group of settlers in the Indian sub-continent. They are
one of three tribes of a larger group called the Hynniewtrep, who have been living in the districts of
East Meghalaya. The Hynniewtrep are composed of the tribes of Khasi, Bhoi and War. All of them
belong to the Proto Austroloid Monkhmer race and commonly known as Khasis. These three tribes
Khasis, Bho and War - are known according to the place they belong to. The Khasis that inhabit
along the southern tracts are known as War and those living in the Khasi Hills are known as WarKhasis and in the Jaintia hills as War-Pnars and War-Jaintias. The Khasis settling in the northern
lowlands and foothills are known as Bhois. And lastly the Khasis who inhabit the eastern part of
Meghalaya, ie, the Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills are known as Jaintias or Pnars. All of them claim
to be the descendants of the "Ki Hynniew Trep" or commonly known as Khasi-Pnars or Khasis. They
collectively have the same traditions and customs.
The Garos Tribe
The Garos, belonging to the Bodo family of the Tibeto-Burman race, are said to have migrated from
Tibet. The Garos prefer to call themselves as Achiks and the land they inhabit as the Achik-land.
The term Garo was taken from the name of a small group of the Garos residing in the central part of
the southern hills. The vibrant and virile ethnic people who reside in the Garo Hills are known as the
Garos. Besides the Garo hills, there are Garo settlements in the plains of Assam and Bangladesh.
P.A. Sangma, former Speaker of Lok Sabha, belongs to the Garo community.
It is noteworthy that almost all these community are Christians.

Tribes of Mizoram

Sipra Sen, Tribes of Mizoram: Description, Anthology and Bibliography (New Delhi: Gyam
Publication, 1992)

The great majority of Mizoram's population is several ethnic tribes who are either culturally or
linguistically linked. These ethnic groups are collectively known as the Lushais/Lusais (People who
play with heads) /Luseis (Long-Headed people) or otherwise called Mizos (Mi= People, Zo= Hill,
that means people living in hill areas). Now-a-days the people prefer to be identified as Mizos,
which is an umbrella term. There is an increasing of the importance of unity among all the Mizo
tribes living in different parts of the northeastern states of India, Burma and Bangladesh. That is
another point of rallying around the ethnic identity. The Mizos are divided into numerous tribes, the
largest of which is possibly the Lushais, which comprises almost two-thirds of the state's
population. Other Mizo tribes include Hmar, Mara, Paite, Lai, Ralte. However, some scholars like

Liangkhaia do not put Lai and Mara under Mizo. Both have a separate an Autonomous District
Council within Mizoram state. The Riang, a subtribe of Tripuri and the Chakma of Arakanese origin,
are a non-Mizo tribe living in Mizoram.
There are substantial number of Chakma people. They are found on the international boundary
with Bangladesh. Most of them migrated to the state in the 1960 after being displaced as a result of
the construction of the Kaptai Dam in then East Pakistan

Lecture 6

Tribes of Nagaland
Christoph von Furer Haimendorf, The Naked Nagas
The Konyak Nagas
Return to the Naked Nagas
H. Horam, The Naga Polity
S.H.M. Rizvi and Shibani Roy, Naga Tribes in North East India (Delhi: Mittal, 2006)
Nagaland, state in extreme northeastern India, bordered on the west and north by Assam state, on
the east by Myanmar, on the north by Arunachal Pradesh state, and on the south by Manipur state.
Nagaland is one of India's smallest states. The first references to the people there are found in
13th-century chronicles of the Ahom kingdom of neighbouring Assam. The word Naga designates
38 tribes and some more sub-tribes spread over Arunachal Pradesh (Konyak), Assam (Zeme),
Manipur (Tangkhul) and Myanmar.

There are 8 (eight) districts in Nagaland.


About 87.7 per cent of the population of Nagaland is entirely tribal. The Nagas belong to the IndoMongoloid family. There are 38 tribes, out of that fifteen are known to be major Naga tribes. They
are the Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma,
Sangtam, Sema, Tankghul, Yimchunger and Zeliang. Each tribe has its distinct languages and
cultural features which are different from one another. The Naga's
have different stories about their origin. The Angamis, Semas,
Rengams and the Lotha's subscribe to the Kheza-Kenoma legend.
It is said that Kheza-Kenoma village had a large stone slab having
magical properties. Paddy spread on it to be dried doubled in
quantity by evening. The magical stone was owned by a couple.
The three sons of the said couple quarreled among themselves on the issue of ownership of the
magical stone. The couple, fearing bloodshed on the matter, set fire on the stone. It result ed
cracks. It is believed that the spirit in the stone went to heaven and the stone lost its miraculous
properties. The three sons thereafter left Kheza-Kenoma, went in different directions and became
the forefathers of the Angami, Sema and the Lotha tribes. All the different tribes have legends

about their origins. Some people believe that these Indo-Mongoloids are 'kiratas' frequently
mentioned in the old Sanskrit literature of whom 'Nagas' were a sub-tribe.
The hill tribes in the areas now known as Nagaland had no generic term applicable to the whole
race. The word 'Naga' was given to these hill tribes by the plains people. This proved to be a great
unifying force to the tribes now classified as Naga.
Once upon a time there had been inter-tribe feuds resulting in ruthless killing and head hunting.
Now, such practice is now longer there. They are united under the umbrella organization called
Naga Hoho. It is the largest civil society organization in Nagaland which is working for Naga
reconciliation. Two other organizations Naga Mothers Association and the Church are playing
important role in the process of integration of the Naga tribes and also in scaling down senseless
killings.

Tribes of Tripura
<

Tripura district map

Map of State of Tripura. Map shows the 5 districts of Tripura, North Tripura, South Tripura,
West Tripura, Dhalai and Kailashara.

Tripura is the smallest state in the North East Inda. About lakhs people of whom 22.36 per
cent are tribal. Most of the tribal communities live in hill areas. Each Tribe has its own
language, religion , social customs and culture. Naturally, they present a series of colourful
festivals and cultural varieties. In absence of any authentic document on the history of
socio-cultural status of each tribe, not much have been written on these subjects. There are
about nineteen different tribes living in Tripura peacefully They are Tripuries, Jamatia,
Noatia, Reang, Halam, Chakmah, Mog, Garo, Munda, Lushai, Oraon, Santhal, Uchai,
Khasi, Bhil, Lepcha, Bhutia, Chaimal and Kuki. However, of these Tripuri and Reang are
the dominant tribes.
Tripuries
Tripuries form the largest tribe of the state comprising about 60% of the total
tribal population. It is estimated that more than one lakh Tripuries live in
Chittagong Hill Tracts, Chandpur and Cumilla areas in Bangladesh. They
belong to the Indo-Mongloid origin and they are one of the Kakborak linguistic
groups. They are basically Hindus by religion, some of them are also animists .
The origin of the cultural explosion among the Tripuries can be traced to the
court of the Tripuri Kings, most of whom, being lover of culture, patronized
their culture. In this way their language, culture and music flourished significantly.
REANG
Reangs are the second largest tribe of Tripura. Some historians have called
them a clan of the Tripuris. Though socio-cultural customs and style of living
are totally different from those of the Tripuris, their language, called Kau Bru,
is distinctively different from Kakborak, the language of the Tripuris. It is said
that the Reang came from Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh to Tripura
years back. The linguistic similarity between the two has been a result of
influence of the Tripuris due to decades of co-existence.

NOATIA

Noatias are also a branch of the Tripuries. It is interesting to note that none of
the Noatias uses Noatia as their surname. Instead they use Tripuri after their
names. It has been observed that those who had been living in Tripura for
many generations claim to be original Tripuris and those who had come from
East Bengal are passed off as Noatias. Moreover, their socio-cultural rites,
rituals and customs are very much identical with those of the Tripuri, who also
use Debbarma instead of Tripuri after their names. It would be misleading to
asume that Tripuries and Noatias are different communities. It is, therefore, difficult to
distinguish between a Tripuri and a Noatia

JAMATIA
The origin of the Kokborok speaking Jamatias is still shrouded in
assumptions and mysteries. They are the third largest tribal group of
Tripura. They are known to be hard working agriculturists and are conscious
about cultural values. Different cultural activities like song, dance and acting
add diversity to their lives. A staunch Hindu tribe, Jamatias also practice
their conventional rites and rituals. They are the most organized among all
the tribes of Tripura. They have a highly organized traditional body called
Hoda.

UCHAI
Uchais are a minor tribe of Tripura.Census of 1971 projected Uchai
population in Tripura as only 1061. Real history of the Uchais could not
be established. British officer Captain Lewin has termed them as a subclan of the Tripuris. A hill area called Duapathar in Chittagong Hill Tracts
of Bangladesh is said to be the original homeland of the Uchais. They
are also of the Mongloid origin and look like other tribal people of
Tripura. They love to drink home-made wine and love to smoke. The
main source of livelihood of the community is jum cultivation.

CHAKMA

The Chakmas came to Tripura years back, though the exact


time can not be found out. Still, major portion of Chakma
population is living in Bangladesh. The history of Chakmas is
as varied as the opinions of different authorities and the
original place from where they came to settle in Bangladesh in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
or in Tripura could not be established. Some have attributed Arakan as their original
home and some have referred to Bhagalpuri present Bihar state. Presently they are
scattered over, Bangladesh, Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. They have moved
from one place to another. But they maintained their own customs and rituals. A major
segment this community came to Tripura in the wake of displacement caused by Kaptai
multi-purpose dam in erstwhile Pakistan in 1965. During Shaikh Hasinas first tenure as
the Prime Minister of Bangladesh about 60,000 of Chakma population were taken back
and rehabilitated.
The Chakmas are believed to be Arayan stock of people. Therefore, their language and
tradition are different from other tribes of Tripura. Generally they are Buddhists. Still
some traits of Hinduism can be traced in their socio religious practices. Some of them
have been worshippers of Shiva and Kali. Moreover, they perform sacrifice to entertain
the goddess of water and other spirits.
MAG
In Tripura Mags are scattered over South and Dhalai District.
Like other tribes their earlier abode was not Tripura. But it also
can not be established for sure that which place was the
original home of Mags. Some authors have claimed that the
Mags are off springs of Arakaness, Burmese and Chinese
stock. That may be the reason that they are mixed tribe. It has also been assumed that
the word Mag has come from Magadh in Bihar state. They embraced the word when they
shifted from Magadh to Arakan.
The Mags living in Sabroom or Belonia Sub-divisions of Tripura had migrated form
Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh where still an impressive number of Mag population
is living. The Mags of Tripura speak the language of Arakan. The Mags are Buddhists.
However, their concept is different from the Tibetans Buddhism. They are known to be
highly superstitious people. They assume illness of anybody as an effect of evil spirit. To
pacify these spirits they offer different food items.

MUNDA
Historians are of the view that the Munda tribes have originated from
Koal living in Bindhya Parvat, Madhya Pradesh. Most Mundas are now
found in Bihar. They have many similarities with Santhals. Despite
being agriculturists they have good hands in hunting. Cultural life of
Mundas resembles that of Santhals. Munda boys and girls perform
song and dance in the villages. Three festivals they celebrate every
year are Jadur, Lasur and Gena. They choose these occasions to
perform dance and also perform Jhumurdance. This dance performance resembles
those of the tea tribes of Assam. It is believed that they were brought by the British for
tea plantation. They also perform Yatra ( open theatre ), which known to be highly
creative. They celebrate Dolpurnima with much fanfare.
GARO
Garos are one of the tribes who came to live in Tripura at a later time.
Their population in Tripura is estimated to be around 8300.Garos in
Tripura had migrated from Garo hills of Meghalaya. Over the time the
Garos have accepted many socio-religious customs of Tripura tribes
making them somehow different from Garos of Meghalaya. They live in
Agartala, Kamalpur, Kailashahar, Udaipur and Amarpur Sub division.

LUSHAI
Lushais are a sub-tribe of Mizo tribe. This is a small community which
had come and settled in Tripura around three centuries back. They are
different from Mizos and Lushais living in Mizoram. They got scattered
later in different states. In Tripura they have been recognized as a
separate tribal community. The Lusais of Tripura live in Jampui Hills.

KUKI

Kukis are known by different names depending on the place they live at.
They do not call themselves Kuki but Hrem. In Tripura they are also
known as Darlong Kuki, Halam Kuki. Their history has continued to be a
controversial one as no other tribe or community other than the Kukis
has been divided into many sub groups. The early home of Kukis has
also been identified as Mizoram. According to a Kuki social belief, their
original home land was Simlung on the bank of Mekang River in China.
At present major portion of the Kukis live in north Tripura . They are also found in
Arunachal Pradesh Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. In Tripura they have
acquired separate identity as a community.
HALAM
Though the Halams have been given the status of an independent
community, they are reported to be one of the sub-tribes of Kukis.
Scholars have given different opinions on the original home land of the
Halams. It is also said that the Halam ived in Tripura even before the
Tripuris came to conquer this land. Originally they were known as
Kukis> Those Kukis who had submitted to the Tripuris came to be
known as Halam. The Halams have 12 sub-groups but in course of
time they have further split into smaller sections and as many as 16 clans are found to
be making the whole Halam community.
CHAIMAL
It is a sub caste of Kuki community, hailing primarily from Mizoram. Like the Kukis the
people of Chaimal community also wander from one place to another in search of Jhum
land. Though they are found mainly in Dharmanagar, Kailashahar, Amarpur and Udaipur
sub-divisions, the community constitutes of only a few numbers of families. The census
has stopped recording this community.

KHASI

It is a major tribe in Meghalaya. Numbering only a few hundred people


in Tripura, the Khasis are found in Datuchhera of Kailashahar Subdivision. The people of this tribe are mainly engaged in plantations of
betel leaf or Pan . The most popular Khasi dance of Meghalaya ,
namely Noagerem, is not performed by the community residing in
Tripura. Incidentally, Khasis of Tripura have recently, for the last few
years, have shown interest in the dance and has not named as Passtea dance. Interestingly, only the male members of the community take part in this
dance.
BHUTIA
A Mongoloid origin, Bhutias are dominant inhabitants of Bhutan. They are also found in
Sikkim in India. They came in search of occupation i.e sale of woolen garments and
temporarily resided in the North Eastern Region. In Tripura they form a very minority
group. Due to negligible population of the community no particular cultural activities of
the tribe has been developed here.

LEPCHA
This tribe is also of Mongoloid origin. They are prominent settlers in
Sikkim and Darjeeling District of West Bengal. They form a very minor
group in Tripura. As a result barely any cultural activity is practiced by
them here. They are Buddhists, they have definite style of living .Their
own customs, rites and rituals , performance in a very calm and quiet
manner.
SANTHAL
Santhals have their own social customs which are based on Sardar system. Apart from
agriculture they are also engaged in hunting and fish cultivation. Basically, a clan of
Austric family they show keen interest in art and culture. Agriculture comes as the theme
of socio-religious life. Their cultural ceremony begins with the Baha festival or Basant
Utsav. The young women of Santhal community perform a dance which is very similar tot
the one performed by the tea tribes of Assam. The community has assimilated with the
local culture of the state and has lost many of their characteristics. Moreover, financial

hardship has also forced them to cut down the number of festivals and occasions of
cultural activities. They are seen to perform Da-Bapla dance on marriage and dance on
Sarhai festival based on worship of land.

ORANG
The Orang community also belong to Austic family similar to
those of tea garden community of Assam. Many of them are
found in the tea garden areas around Agartala, Khowai,
Kamalpur, Dharmanagar and Kailashahar. Agriculture is their
main source of livelihood. Hunting pisci-culture and fruit collection etc also supplements it.
The main festival is known as Karam, almost similar to that of the tea garden community
living in Assam .Following the name of this worship the dance performed on this occasion
has come to be known as Karma dance. Another occasion they love to celebrate is the
day of full-moon in the month of Fulguna. On this occasion they perform Fagua dance .
After playing holi in the moon light, the boys and girls together perform Fagua. During the
dance they hold sticks in their hands. Another dance they perform is known as Jhumur,
similar to that of dance performed by the tea garden community . All the dances have
male and female participants, which are accompanied by drum and kartal to keep the
rhythm.

Lecture 7

Religions

The presence of almost all religions is felt in the region. The following Table gives an idea about it

Religion-wise percentage of population in North East


States

Hindus

Muslims

Christians

Buddhist

Arunachal Pradesh

34.6

1.9

18.7

13.2

Assam

64.9

30.9

3.7

0.2

Manipur

46.0

8.8

34.4

13.0

Meghalaya

13.3

4.3

64.6

0.2

Mizoram

3.6

1.1

87.0

7.9

Nagaland

7.7

1.8

90.0

0.1

Tripura

85.6

8.0

3.2

3.1

Census 2001

HISTORY OF THE REGION


Cut off from the rest of the world owing to geographic reasons the contact was maintained over
the centuries through Banga, Bengal, i.e. present Bangladesh
History of Arunachal Pradesh:

Arunachal Pradesh borders with the Indian state of Assam to the south and Nagaland to the
southeast. Myanmar lies to the east, Bhutan to the west north, it borders with Tibet. China disputes
the border, which is the McMohan Line agreed to by Great Britain and then-de-facto-independent
Tibet in a 1914 treaty.
Itanagar is the capital of the state.

Arunachal Pradesh means "land of the dawn lit mountains". It is also known as "land of the rising
sun" because of its geographical positon as the easternmost state of India. Most of the people
native to and/or living in Arunachal Pradesh are of Tibeto-Burman origin. These people migrated to
the region over several centuries from Tibet and present Myanmar.

The history of pre-modern Arunachal Pradesh remains shrouded in mystery. It is popularly


believed, and may be speculatively assumed, that the first ancestors of most indigenous tribal
groups migrated from pre-Buddhist Tibet two or three thousand years ago, if not before, and were
joined by Tibetic and Thai-Burmese counterparts later. The earliest written references to Arunachal
are popularly believed to be found in the Mahabharata, and other Vedic legends. Several
characters, such as, King Bhismaka, are believed to represent people from the region in the
Mahabharata. however, there is little historical evidences to prove it
Oral histories possessed to this day by many Arunachali tribes of Tibeto-Burman stock are much
richer, and point unambiguously to a northern origin in modern-day Tibet. Again, however,
corroboration remains difficult. From the point of view of material culture, it is clear that most
indigenous Arunachali groups align with Burma-area hill tribals, a fact which could either be
explainable in terms of a northern Burmese origin or from westward cultural diffusion.
Recorded history from an outside perspective only became available in the Ahom chronicles of the
16th century. The Monpa and Sherdukpen do keep historical records of the existence of local
chiefdoms in the northwest as well. Such records tell us about the people since 14 th century
onwards. This region then came under the loose control of Tibet and Bhutan, especially in the
Northern areas. The remaining parts of the state, especially those bordering Myanmar, came under
the titular control of the Ahom and the Assamese until the annexation of India by the British in
1858. However, most Arunachali tribes remained in practice largely autonomous up until Indian
independence and the formalization of indigenous administration in 1947.
Recent excavations of ruins of Hindu temples such as the 14th century Malinithan at the foot of the
Siang hills somewhat automatically associated with the ancient history of Arunachal However,
such temples are generally south-facing, never occur more than a few kilometers from the Assam
plains area, and are perhaps more likely to have been associated with Assam plains-based rather
than indigenous Arunachali populations. Another notable heritage site, Bhismaknagar, has led to
suggestions that the Idu (Mishmi) had an advanced culture and administration in pre-historical
times. Again, however, there is no evidence which would directly associate Bhismaknagar to this or
any other known culture. The third heritage site, the 400-year-old Tawang Monastery in the

extreme north-west of the state, provides some historical evidence of the Buddhist tribal peoples.
Historically, the area had a close relationship with Tibet.

British map published in 1909 showing the Indo-Tibetan traditional border (eastern section on the
top right)
In 1913-1914 representatives of China, Tibet and Britain negotiated and signed a treaty called the
Simla Accord, which defined the borders between Inner and Outer Tibet as well as between Outer
Tibet and British India. British administrator, Sir Henry McMahon, drew up the 890 km McMahon
Line as the border between British India and Outer Tibet during the Simla Conference. The Tibetan
and British representatives at the conference agreed to the line, which ceded Tawang and other
Tibetan areas to the British Empire. The Chinese representative had no problems with the border
between British India and Outer Tibet, however on the issue of the border between Outer Tibet and
Inner Tibet the talks broke down. Thus, the Chinese representative refused to accept the

agreement and walked out of the Conference. The dispute continues till date. China continues to
claim on Arunachal Pradesh.
The Survey of India published a map showing the McMahon Line as the official boundary in 1937.
In 1938, the British finally published the Simla Convention as a bilateral accord two decades after
the Simla Conference; in 1938 the Survey of India published a detailed map showing Tawang as
part of NEFA. In 1944 Britain established administrations in the area, from Dirang Dzong in the
west to Walong in the east. Tibet, however, altered its position on the McMahon Line in late 1947
when the Tibetan government wrote a note presented to the newly independent Indian Ministry of
External Affairs laying claims to the Tibetan district (Tawang) south of the McMahon Line. The
situation developed further as India became independent and China became People's Republic of
China (PRC) on October 1, 1949. Soon after as China started its process to take over Tibet, India
unilaterally declared the McMahon Line to be the boundary in November 1950, and forced the last
remnants of Tibetan administration out of the Tawang area in 1951. The PRC has never recognized
the McMahon Line. In 1959 a suppressed Tibetan uprising resulted in PRC's abolition of Tibet's
self-ruling government headed by the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, via
Tawang, and from Dharamsala he continues to lead the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Maps
published by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile now show the McMahon Line as the southern border
of Tibet.
The entire region remained unadministered or partially administered till 1954. The NEFA (North
East Frontier Agency) was created in 1954. The issue was quiet during the next decade or so of
cordial Sino-Indian relations, but erupted again during the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The cause of
the escalation into war is still disputed by both Chinese and Indian sources. During the war in 1962,
the PRC captured most of the NEFA. However, China soon declared victory, voluntarily withdrew
back to the McMahon Line and returned Indian prisoners of war in 1963. The war has resulted in
the termination of barter trade with Tibet, although in 2007 the state government has shown signs
to resume barter trade with Tibet. Of late, Arunachal Pradesh has come to face threats from certain
insurgent groups, notably the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), who are believed to
have base camps in the districts of Changlang and Tirap. There are occasional reports of these
groups harassing local people and extracting protection money.

Geography

Arunachal Pradesh is famous for its mountainous landscape.

The Himalayas bordering Arunachal Pradesh


Much of Arunachal Pradesh is covered by the Himalayas. However, parts of Lohit, Changlang and
Tirap are covered by the Patkai hills. Kangto, Nyegi Kangsang, the main Gorichen peak and the
Eastern Gorichen peak are some of the highest peaks in this region of the Himalayas.
In 2006 Bumla pass in Tawang was opened to traders for the first time in 44 years. Traders from
both sides of the pass were permitted to enter each other's territories, in addition to postal workers
from each country.
The Himalayan ranges that extend up to the eastern Arunachal separate it from Tibet. The ranges
extend toward Nagaland, and form a boundary between India and Burma in Changlang and Tirap
district, acting as a natural barrier called Patkai Bum Hills. They are low mountains compared to the
Greater Himalayas.

Climate

The climate of Arunachal Pradesh varies with elevation. Areas that are at a very high elevation in
the Upper Himalayas close to the Tibetan border enjoy an alpine or Tundra climate. Below the
Upper Himalayas are the Middle Himalayas, where people experience a temperate climate. Areas
at the sub-Himalayan and sea-level elevation generally experience humid, sub-tropical climate with
hot summers and mild winters.
Arunachal Pradesh receives heavy rainfall of 80 to 160 inches (2,000 to 4,100 mm) annually, most
of it between May and September. The mountain slopes and hills are covered with alpine,
temperate, and subtropical forests of oak, pine, maple, fir, and juniper; sal (Shorea) and teak are
the main economically valuable species.
Sub-divisions
Arunachal Pradesh is divided into sixteen districts, each administered by a Deputy Commissioner,
who sees to the needs of the local people. Especially along the Tibetan border, the Indian army has
a considerable presence due to concerns about Chinese intentions in the region. Inner Line
Permits (ILP) are required to enter Arunachal Pradesh through any of its checkgates on the border
with Assam. For foreigners the Restricted Area Permit is a must.

Districts of Arunachal Pradesh:


1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16

Anjaw District
Changlang District
East Kameng
East Siang
Kurung Kumey
Lohit District
Lower Dibang Valley
Lower Subansiri
Papum Pare
Tawang District
Tirap District
Upper Dibang Valley
Upper Subansiri
Upper Siang
West Kameng
West Siang

Economy
The Table below gives an idea of the trend of the gross state domestic product of Arunachal
Pradesh at market prices estimated by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation
with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.
Year
1980
1985
1990
1995
2000

Gross State Domestic Product


1,070
2,690
5,080
11,840
17,830

Arunachal Pradesh's gross state domestic product for 2004 was estimated at $706 million in
current prices. Agriculture primarily drives the economy. Jhum, the local word for a shifting
cultivation widely practiced among the tribal groups, is now less practiced. Arunachal Pradesh has
close to 61,000 square kilometers of forests, and forest products are the next most significant
sector of the economy. Among the crops grown here are rice, maize, millet, wheat, pulses,
sugarcane, ginger, and oilseeds. Arunachal is also ideal for horticulture and fruit orchards. Its major
industries are rice mills, fruit preservation units, and handloom handicrafts. Despite the ban on
felling trees and sawmills, deforestation is going at an alarming rate.
Arunachal Pradesh accounts for a large percentage of India's untapped hydroelectric power
production potential. In 2008, the state government of Arunachal Pradesh signed deals with various
Indian companies planning some 42 hydroelectric schemes that will produce electricity in excess of
27,000 MW. Construction of the Upper Siang Hydroelectric Project, which is expected to generate
between 10,000 to 12,000 MW, began in April 2009.
Corruption in Arunachal Pradesh is endemic, and reputed to be among the worst in India. During
2009 elections, the Arunachal Times reported that virtually all of the leading candidates had
reported personal fortunes to the equivalent of several million US dollars - in a state with no income
tax and where the average per capita income is only a dollar or two per day. The failure of
Arunachali people to hold their leaders accountable has led to tremendous drains on the economy
and a crumbling infrastructure.
Another missed economic opportunity is that of tourism. Boasting a scenic natural beauty which at
least equals and in some respects surpasses that of other Himalayan regions such as Sikkim,
Bhutan, and Nepal, Arunachal Pradesh's strict and expensive "Restricted/Protected Area Permit"
scheme ensures both that no more than a trickle of foreign tourists are able to visit the state each

year, and that revenues so obtained go directly into the pockets of government officials and
affiliated tour operators. Little if any benefit from tourism is able to reach the general population,
which remains in general relatively impoverished.
Languages
Modern-day Arunachal Pradesh is one of the linguistically richest and most diverse regions in all of
Asia, being home to at least thirty and possibly as many as fifty distinct languages in addition to
innumerable dialects and sub-dialects thereof. Boundaries between languages very often correlate
with tribal divisions - for example, Apatani and Nyishi are both tribally and linguistically distinct - but
shifts in tribal identity and alignment over time have also ensured that a certain amount of
complication enters into the picture - for example, Galo is and has seemingly always been
linguistically distinct from Adi, whereas the earlier tribal alignment of Galo with Adi (i.e., "Adi
Gallong") has only recently been essentially dissolved.
The vast majority of languages indigenous to modern-day Arunachal Pradesh belong to the TibetoBurman language family. The majority of these in turn belong to a single branch of Tibeto-Burman,
namely Tani. Almost all Tani languages are indigenous to central Arunachal Pradesh, including
(moving from west to east) Nyishi/Nishi, Apatani, Bangni, Tagin, Hills Miri, Galo, Bokar, Lower Adi
(Padam, Pasi, Minyong, and Komkar), Upper Adi (Aashing, Shimong, Karko and Bori), and Milang;
only Mising, among Tani languages, is primarily spoken outside Arunachal Pradesh in modern-day
Assam, while a handful of northern Tani languages including Bangni and Bokar are also spoken in
small numbers in Tibet. Tani languages are noticeably characterized by an overall relative
uniformity, suggesting relatively recent origin and dispersal within their present-day area of
concentration. Most Tani languages are mutually-intelligible with at least one other Tani language,
meaning that the area constitutes a dialect chain. Apatani and Milang stand out as relatively unique
in the Tani context. Tani languages are among the better-studied languages of the region.
To the east of the Tani area lie three highly endangered languages of the "Mishmi" group of TibetoBurman, Idu, Digaru and Miju. A certain number of speakers of these languages are also found in
Tibet. The relationships of these languages, both amongst one another and to other area
languages, are as yet uncertain. Further south, one finds the Singpho (Kachin) language, which is
primarily spoken by large populations in Burma, and the Nocte and Wancho languages, which
show affiliations to certain "Naga" languages spoken to the south in modern-day Nagaland.
To the west and north of the Tani area are found at least one and possibly as many as four Bodic
languages, including Dakpa and Tshangla; within modern-day India, these languages go by the
cognate but, in usage, distinct designations Monpa and Memba. Most speakers of these languages

or closely-related Bodic languages are found in neighbouring Bhutan and Tibet, and Monpa and
Memba populations remain closely-adjacent to these border regions.
Between the Bodic and Tani areas lie a large number of almost completely unclassified languages
which, speculatively considered to be Tibeto-Burman, exhibit many unique structural and lexical
properties which probably reflect both a long history in the region and a complex history of
language contact with neighbouring populations. Among them are Sherdukpen, Bugun, Aka/Hruso,
Miji, Bangru and Puroik/Sulung. The high linguistic significance of all of these languages is belied
by the extreme paucity of documentation and description of them, even in view of their highly
endangered status. Puroik, in particular, is perhaps one of the most culturally and linguistically
unique and significant populations in all of Asia from proto-historical and anthropological-linguistic
perspectives, and yet virtually no information of any real reliability regarding their culture or
language can be found in print even to this day.
Finally, there is an unknown number of Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal-area origin spoken in
modern-day Arunachal Pradesh, including Gurung and Tamang; not classified as "tribal" in the
Arunachali context, such languages generally go unrecognized, while their speakers are largely
viewed as itinerant "Nepalis". An unknown number of Tibetan dialects are similarly spoken by
recent migrants from Tibet, although they are not generally recognized or classified as tribal or
indigenous.
Outside of Tibeto-Burman, one finds in Arunachal Pradesh a single representative of the Tai
language family, namely the Khamti language which is closely-affiliated to the Shan dialects of
northern Burma; seemingly, Khamti is a recent arrival in Arunachal Pradesh whose presence dates
from 18th and/or early 19th-century migrations from northern Burma. In addition to these non-IndoEuropean languages, the Indo-European languages Assamese, Bengali, English, Nepali and
especially Hindi are making strong inroads into Arunachal Pradesh. Primarily as a result of the
primary education system - in which classes are generally taught by Hindi-speaking immigrant
teachers from Bihar and other Hindi-speaking parts of northern India - a large and growing section
of the population now speaks a semi-creolized variety of Hindi as its mother tongue.
Tourism
Arunachal Pradesh attracts tourists from many parts of the world. Tourist attractions include the
Namdapha tiger project in Changlang district and Sela lake near Bomdila with its bamboo bridges
overhanging the river. Religious places of interest include Malinithan in Lekhabali, Rukhmininagar
near Roing (the place where Rukmini, Lord Krishna's wife in Hindu mythology, is said to have
lived), and Parshuram Kund in Lohit district (which is believed to be the lake where Parshuram

washed away his sins). Rafting and trekking are common activities. A visitor's permit from the
tourism department is required. Places like Tuting have wonderful, undiscovered scenic beauty.

Lecture 8

History of Assam
Edward A. Gait, A History of Assam (Calcutta: Thacker Spink, 1933)
S.L. Baruah, A Comprehensive History of Assam (Guwahati: Lawyers, 1986)
S.L. Baruah, The Last Days of Ahom Monarchy (New Delhi: Mrml Publication, 1994)
H.K Barpujari (ed), The Comprehensive History of Assam, Vol. I-III (Guwahati: Publication Board,
1990)
P.C. Choudhury, The History of Civilisation of the People of Assam to the Twelfth Century A.D.,
(Guwahati: Lawyers, 1972)

Four more districts have been created recently these are Baksha, Chirang, Udalguri and Kamrup
(Metro)
History of Assam
Six periods
Pre-Historic
Mythological
Ancient
Mediaval period
Colonial period, and
Post-colonial period
The history of Assam is the history of a migration of people from the east, west and the north; the
assimilation of the Indo-Aryan, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman cultures. Politically, it has been

invaded, but has never served as a vassal or a colony to an external power till the advent of the
Burmese in 1821 and subsequently the British in 1826.
The history of Assam is known from many sources. The Ahom kingdom of medieval Assam
maintained chronicles, called Buranjis, written in the Tai and the Assamese languages. History of
ancient Assam comes from rock inscriptions and the many copper plates and royal grants the
Kamarupa kings issued during their reign. Protohistory is reconstructed from folklore, epics like
Mahabharata, and two medieval texts compiled in the Assam regionthe Kalika Purana and the
Yogini Tantra.
Prehistory
Paleolithic cultures: The earliest inhabitants of the region are assigned to the Middle Pleistocene
period (781,000 to 126,000 years ago) in the foothill of Assam.
The neolithic sites in Assam are widely spread, mostly concentrated in the hills and high grounds,
due possibly to the floods. These cultures performed shifting cultivation called jhum, which is still
practiced by some communities in the region. Some typical sites are Daojali Hading in North
Cachar hills and Sarutaru in Kamrup district.
Mythological Assam
Protohistoric Assam is reconstructed from epics and literature from early times (Mahabharata,
Kalika Purana, Yogini Tantra, etc.). The earliest political entity seems to have been led by a nonAryan Danava dynasty with Mahiranga mentioned as the first king. This dynasty was removed by
Narakasura. Naraka appears to be a generic name for many kings belonging to the Naraka
dynasty. According to legend, the last of the Naraka kings was killed by Krishna and his son
Bhagadatta took the throne. Bhagadatta is said to have participated in the Mahabharata war with
an army of "chinas, kiratas and dwellers of the eastern sea", thereby indicating that his kingdom,
Pragjyotisha, included part of Bangladesh. The last in the Naraka dynasty was a ruler named
Suparua.
Ancient period
The historical account of Assam begins with the establishment of Pushya Varman's Varman
dynasty in the 4th century in the Kamarupa kingdom, which marks the beginning of Ancient Assam.
This dynasty was most likely of aboriginal origin, but drew its lineage from Narakasura. The
kingdom reached its zenith under Bhaskarvarman in the 7th century. Xuanzang visited his court

and left behind a significant account. Bhaskar Varman died without leaving behind an issue and the
control of the country passed to Salasthamba, who established the Mlechchha dynasty. After the
fall of the Mlechchha dynasty in the late 9th century, a new ruler, Brahmapala was elected, who
established the Pala dynasty. The last Pala king was removed by the Gaur king, Ramapala, in
1110. But the two subsequent kings, Timgyadeva and Vaidyadeva, though established by the Gaur
kings, ruled mostly as independents and issued grants under the old Kamarupa seals. The fall of
subsequent kings and the rise of individual kingdoms in the 12th century in place of the Kamarupa
kingdom marked the end of the Kamarupa kingdom and the period of Ancient Assam.
Medieval period

A typical octagonal Ahom coin issued by Suramphaa Rajeswar Singha (1751-1769) of the Ahom
dynasty
The beginning of Medieval Assam is marked by the rise of the Khen dynasty of the Kamata
kingdom, established by Prithu in the western part of the old Kamarupa Kingdom, and the
beginning of attacks by the Turks of Bengal. The Kamata kingdom, named after the capital at
Kamatapur, was frequently attacked by the rulers of Bengal, and Alauddin Hussain Shah finally
removed the last Khen king in 1498. But Hussein Shah and subsequent rulers could not
consolidate their rule in the Kamata kingdom, mainly due to the revolt by the Bhuyan chieftains and
other local groups. In the 16th century Viswa Singha of the Koch tribe established the Koch
dynasty in the Kamata kingdom. The Koch dynasty reached its peak under his sons, Nara Narayan
and Chilarai.
In the eastern part of the old Kamarupa kingdom, the Kachari and the Chutiya kingdoms arose,
with portions of the north bank of the Brahmaputra river controlled by the Bhuyan chieftains. In the
tract between the Kachari and the Chutia kingdoms, a Shan group from northern Thailand, led by
Sukapha, established the Ahom kingdom in1226 AD in Upper Assam. The Ahom kingdom in the
course of time expanded into the Chutia kingdom to its north and pushed the Kachari kingdom
further south. The Ahoms easilty subjugated the Chutia. It faced tough challenge from the Koch
kingdom and then the Mughals. Most of the 17th century saw the Ahom-Mughal conflicts, in which

the Ahoms, led by General Lachit Borphukan, defeated the mighty Mughals in the Battle of
Saraighat of 1671. The Ahom kingdom reached its westernmost boundary.
After the Ahom kingdom reached its zenith, problems within the kingdom arose in the 18th century,
when it lost power briefly to rebels of the Moamoria rebellion. The Moamorias were Vaishnavas and
were insulted by the Queen of Sivasingha, named Phuleswari. Though the Ahoms recaptured
power, it was beset with problems, leading to the Burmese invasion of Assam in the early 19th
century. With the defeat of the Burmese in the First Anglo-Burmese war and the subsequent Treaty
of Yandaboo in 1826, control of Assam passed into the hands of the British, which marks the end of
the Medieval period.

Colonial period
After the Burmese occupied Assam, the British began their campaign against the Burmese. In
1824, lower Assam (originally Koch Hajo) was formally annexed. The following year the British
defeated the Burmese in upper Assam leading to the Treaty of Yandaboo. In this war against the
Burmese the Ahoms did not help the British. In March 1828, lower Assam was formally annexed. In
the same year, the Kachari kingdom was annexed under the Doctrine of Lapse after the king
Govinda Chandra was killed. In 1832, the Khasi king surrendered and the British increased their
influence over the Jaintia ruler. In 1833, upper Assam became a British protectorate under the
erstwhile ruler of the Ahom kingdom, Purandhar Singha, but in 1838 the region was formally
annexed into the British empire. With the annexation of the Maran/Matak territory in the east in
1839, the annexation of Assam was complete.
Bengal Presidency (1826-1873): Assam was included as a part of the Bengal Presidency. The
annexation of upper Assam is attributed to the successful manufacture of tea in 1837, and the
beginning of the Assam Company in 1839. Under the Wasteland Rules of 1838, it became nearly
impossible for natives to start plantations. After the liberalization of the rules in 1854, there was a
land rush. The Chinese staff that was imported earlier for the cultivation of tea left Assam in 1843,
when tea plantations came to be tended by local labor solely, mainly by those belonging to the
Kachari group. From 1859 central Indian labor was imported for the tea plantations. This labor,
based on an unbreakable contract, led to a virtual slavery of this labor group. The conditions in
which they were transported to Assam were so horrific that about 10% never survived the journey.
The colonial government already had monopoly over the opium trade.
There were immediate protests and revolts against the British occupation. In 1828, two years after
the Treaty of Yandaboo, Gomdhar Konwar rose in revolt against the British, but he was easily
suppressed. In 1830 Dhananjoy Burhagohain, Piyali Phukan and Jiuram Medhi rose in revolt, and

they were sentenced to death. In the Indian rebellion of 1857, the people of Assam offered
resistance in the form of non-cooperation, and Maniram Dewan and Piyali Baruah were executed
for their roles. In 1861 peasants of Nagaon gathered at Phulaguri for a raiz mel (peoples'
assembly) to protest against taxes on betel-nut and paan. Several revolts against the British rule
took place, but all were suppressed. By 1874 entire Assam and adjoining areas came under the
British
Chief Commissioner's Province (1874-1905):
In 1874, the Assam region was separated from the Bengal Presidency, Sylhet was added to it and
its status was upgraded to a Chief Commissioner's Province. The capital was at Shillong. The
people of Sylhet protested the inclusion in Assam. Assamese, which was replaced by Bengali as
the official language in 1837, was reinstated alongside Bengali. In 1889, oil was discovered at
Digboi giving rise to an oil industry. In this period Nagaon witnessed starvation deaths, and there
was a decrease in the indigenous population, which was more than adequately compensated by
the immigrant labor. Colonialism was well entrenched, and the tea, oil and coal-mining industries
were putting increasing pressure on the agricultural sector which was lagging behind.
The peasants, burdened under the opium monopoly and the usury by money lenders, rose again in
revolt. Numerous raiz mels decided against paying the taxes. The protests culminated in a bayonet
charge against the protesters at Patharughat in 1894. At least 15 were left dead and in the violent
repression that followed villagers were tortured and their properties were destroyed or looted.
Bengal was partitioned in 1905 and East Bengal was added to the Chief Commissioner's Province.
The new region, now ruled by a Lt. Governor, had its capital at Dhaka. Assam was proclaimed to
be a separate province. Sylhet remained as a part of Assam.
The Partition of Bengal was strongly protested in Bengal, and the people of Assam were also not
happy either. The Swadeshi movement (1905-1908) from this period,Assam under the leadership
of Ambikagiri Raychoudhury joined the movement.
Beginning 1905 peasants from East Bengal began settling down in the riverine tracts (char) of the
Brahmaputra valley encouraged by the colonial government to increase agricultural production.
Between 1905 and 1921, the immigrant population from East Bengal increased four folds. The
immigration continued in post colonial times, giving rise to the Six Year Assam Agitation of 19791985.
As Assam got sucked into the Non-Cooperation Movement, the Assam Association slowly
transformed itself into the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (with 5 seats in AICC) in 1920-21.

Under the Government of India Act 1919 the Assam Legislative Council membership was
increased to 53, of which 33 were elected by special constituencies. The powers of the Council
were increased too; but in effect, the official group, consisting of the Europeans, the nominated
members etc. had the most influence.
Under the Government of India Act 1935, the Assam Legislative Council was expanded into an
Assembly of 108 members, with even more powers. The period saw the sudden rise of Gopinath
Bordoloi and Muhammed Saadulah and their tussle for power and influence.
Post-colonial Assam
The Congress party had a long rule in the state from 1947 to 1978, when it was defeated by a
coalition of parties. It was followed by political instability up to the signing of the Assam Accord.
Four ministries were formed and were removed. The first was headed by Golap Borbora, he was
dislodged by his colleague Jogen Hazarika. He could not stay any longer. Anwara Taimur became
the Chief Minister for a short period. She was succeeded by Keshab Gogoi. It was a period of
instability. The Assam agitation or Movement a popular movement against illegal immigration was
going on spearheaded by All Assam Student Association (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram
Parishad (AAGSP), set an agitational program to compel the government to identify and expel
illegal immigrants and prevent new immigration. During this time there were incidences of large
scale violence such as Gohpur and Nellie massacres. The Assam agitation ended in 1985 following
the Assam Accord that was signed by the agitation leaders and the Government of India. The
agitation leaders formed a political party, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which came to power in the
state of Assam in the Assembly elections of 1985. It may be noted that a separatist armed
movement was started by a militant outfit called United Liberation Front Asom. The Bodo
movement for a separate state also took place during this period. The Karbis and Dimasas too
demanded separate states. Ethnic movements and inter-trbal violence took place in large scale.
These issues will be discussed at a later phase.
The AGP was defeated in the 1991 election and the Congress returned to power and ruled the
state till 1996. The 1996 elections brought the AGP to power once again. However, the Congress
defeated once again the regional party and captured power in2001 and retained power in 2006.

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