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North East India Tribes


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Northeast region of India is a pristine territory, completely unexplored. The valley is adorned with lush green vegetation, majestic mountains and untamed rivers. It is also abode of exquisite range of flora and fauna and the magnificent tribal life. The states of Northeast India's natural splendor welcome the tourist browsing for something different.

North East of India is comprises of Sikkim where orchids bloom on the hillside. Assam - famous for its tea gardens, Arunchal Pradesh - the first part of India to welcome the morning sun. Tripura - explore the princely traditions of, Nagaland - famous for the tribal crafts and culture, Mizoram - enjoy the exquisite bamboo and cane souvenirs, Manipur - luxuriate in the marionette dance, Meghalaya- recline in the picturesque vista of the abode of the clouds. All is adding to its charisma.

A varied number of tribes and tribal groups each with its own distinct culture inhabit the region of northeast India. Many tribal languages are spoken throughout these seven states. The northeastern states have the highest percentage of Christians. The region also has its state importance as it is bordering the territories of China, Tibet, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Tai-Khamtis tribe hold to their Buddhist faith and got settled in the Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh , thus the area became the central platform for intermixing of varying cultures and religions, the main ones being Hinduism and Buddhism. Tribal society tends to be considerate of humankind, its leadership being based on ties of kinship and temper rather than on hereditary status.

Main Tribes of North East
A major portion of the tribal habitat is hilly and forested. Tribal villages are generally found in areas away from the alluvial plains close to rivers. Tribal groups hold such cultural features, which indicate an ancient level in social- cultural standard.

The native people of Arunachal Pradesh are tribes with gratifying heritage of arts and crafts and entertaining folksongs. The state has 26 major tribes and a number of sub-tribes having their own lingo and cultural identities. Apatanis is the main tribal group of Arunachal Pradesh. Each tribe has its own lively folk songs and kaleidoscopic traditional dances that depict a unique outline of unity in diversity. Though the tribes have their own dialect but Hindi and Assamese are also widely spoken and used in communication with non tribal people.

There are 62 different tribes prevailing in Orissa. The total strength of tribal population is about 7 million, which comprises of 22.21% of the total population of the State. Tribal economy is a subsistence economy is mainly based on collecting, hunting and fishing. The most primitive tribes are Bondas, Gadabas, Koyas, Kondhas and Sauras.

16 major tribes along with other sub-tribes inhabit Nagaland. Each tribe has its own customs, languages, dress and can easily be marked by the brilliant designed attires, jewelry and bead strings that they wear. The present generation of Nagas has turned into fashion designing in a big way, reproducing fabrics that represent the ancestral motifs blended with modern appeal. The traditional ceremonial attire of each tribe is an interesting sight to see.

Main tribal groups in Assam are Khamti, Phakial, Khamyang, Aitonia, Nara, Gurung and Shyam. Populations of these tribes have been gradually decreasing in the last one-decade. It is interesting to note that the Government of India has not recognized these tribal groups as the tribal people.

Weaving by Tribal Women
A common feature of the tribal population in north east region is weaving that is being practiced by all tribal groups in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and in the valley of Assam. There are only a few exceptions, such as the Nokteys of Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh and the Khasis of Meghalaya who do not weave.

It is the women who are the real sartor of northeastern region -whether it be the Monpas and Sherdukpens of Kameng, the Mishmis and Khamtis of Lohit or the wives of the Wanchoo chieftains of Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh, or any of the Naga tribes, or even the Assamese in the plains, it is the women who weave unlike the rest of India, where men surpass the weaving skill.

Density of Tribal Population
Tribal population is mainly dominating in the thinly populated hill areas almost comprising of 20 percent of the total region population. In the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland, upward of 90 percent of the population is tribal. However, in the remaining northeast states of Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, and Tripura, tribal peoples form between 20 and 30 percent of the population.

Often they practice farming by clearing a field by slash or burn methods, planting it for a number of seasons, and then abandoning it for a lengthy fallow period, rather than the intensive farming typical of most of rural India.
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