Well, Arunachal Pradesh is the land of tribes. Almost the majority of the population of this state is tribal.
As per the 2011 census, Arunachal has a population of about 1.1 millions on an area of about 84,000 km2, amounting to a population density of about 17 pop./km2.
How Many Tribes Are There In Arunachal Pradesh?
Arunachal Pradesh is the land of diverse tribes and cultures. This state is inhabited by 26 major tribes and about 100 sub-tribes. Some of the major tribes of the state are Abor, Adi, Apatani, Bangni, Khowa, Dafla, Galong, Mishmi, etc. And, some of the major sub-tribes are Padam, Minyong, Pangis, Shimong, Ashing, Pasi, Karko, Bokar, Bori, Ramo, etc.
If we calculate the data as per the 2011 census, it can be seen that about 2/3rd of the total indigenous population of Arunachal Pradesh is tribal and the rest 1/3rd population is distributed amongst the Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, and other people.
Briefly about the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh is the land of various ethnic groups and local tribes. These tribes were derived from the various distinct ethnic groups, most of which are in some ways related to the people of Tibet and the hill region of western Myanmar.
The various tribes of the state show similar characteristics amongst themselves, although each tribe is different from the other with varied heritage, customs, and more.
About 2/3rd of the state’s population is tribal and they belong to the ST (Scheduled Tribes) caste category of India.
Scheduled Tribes (STs) are officially designated groups of indigenous peoples who fall outside of the prevailing Indian social structure as recognized in the Constitution of India.
Each tribal group has its own way of living as per their lifelong heritage, landscape, custom, ancestral origin, and customs.
While some tribes are highly indulged in agriculture, others can be seen indulged in fishing, weaving, gathering forest resources, and with many varied lifestyles, and occupations of course.
They are located in different parts of the state where they have been inhabiting from their early ancestral ages.
List of the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh
There are 26 major tribes in Arunachal Pradesh. These are:
1. Abor: These are the hill tribes inhabiting the southern reaches of the Himalayan range in Arunachal Pradesh.
2. Adi: This is the most populous tribe of Arunachal and are mostly found in the temperate and sub-tropical regions within the districts of Siang, East Siang, Upper Siang, West Siang, Lower Dibang Valley, Lohit, and Namsai.
3. Adi Gallong: They are a central Eastern Himalayan tribe, who are descendants of Abo Tani and speak the Tani language.
4. Adi Minyong: The Minyong are a sub-group of the Adi people residing in East Siang, Upper Siang, and West Siang district.
5. Adi Padam: Padam is a sub-tribe of the Adi tribe of Abotani clan, comprising major clans Borang, Pertin, Ratan, Perme, Lego, Saring, Yirang, Megu and Tayeng. Padam is the strongest sub-tribe of the Adis.
6. Aka: The Aka are found in the Thrizino, Bhalukpong, Buragaon and their language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family.
7. Any Naga Tribes: Naga is an umbrella term for several indigenous communities in North-East India and Upper Burma all belonging to the Naga origin of Nagaland.
8. Apatani: The Apatani, are a tribal group of people living in the Ziro valley in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
9. Bangni: It is also known as the Nyishi community. It is the largest ethnic group in Arunachal Pradesh of North-eastern India.
10. Khowa: The Buguns (formerly Khowa) are one of the earliest recognized Schedule Tribe (ST) of India, the majority of them, inhabiting the Singchung Sub-Division of West Kameng District.
11. Dafla: They are the major tribe inhabiting the Daphla Hills located on the border of western Arunachal and Assam.
12. Deori: Another major tribe belonging to the Tibeto-Burman horizon in the Sino-Tibetan language family spoken people of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
13. Galong: The Galo is a central Eastern Himalayan tribe, who are descendants of Abo Tani and speak the Tani language Galo language.
14. Idu/Chulikata Mishmi: They are a major sub-tribe of the Mishmi group that inhabit the Lohit district, Dibang Valley district, and Lower Dibang Valley district.
15. Khampti: Also known as Tai-Khampti, it is one of the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and inhabits the district of Namsai majorly.
16. Miji: The Miji inhabit the districts of West Kameng, East Kameng and a minuscule region of Kurung Kumey in Arunachal Pradesh.
17. Mishing/Miri: The Misings are an indigenous community inhabiting the parts of the Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh who were of Mongoloid origin.
18. Mishmi: The Mishmi of Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh are an ethnic group comprising mainly three tribes: Idu Mishmi; Digaro, and Miju Mishmi.
19. Monpa: Monpa is one of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh that inhabits the higher altitudes varying from 10,000 to 15,000 feet in Tawang and western part of West Kameng District.
20. Nyishi: It’s a very very famous tribe of Arunachal Pradesh belonging to the Tibeto-Burman language of the Sino-Tibetan family.
21. Nissi: Sub-group belonging to the Nyishi community with matching heritage and with only a few differences.
22. Nocte: The Nocte is an ethnic Naga tribe primarily living in the Patkai hills of the Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh, India.
23. Tagin: One of the major tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and is a member of the larger designation of Tani Tribes.
24. Tagsa: The Tangsa or Tangshang Naga in India and Myanmar (Burma), is a Naga tribe native to Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh.
25. Tawang Monpa: A six sub-grouped tribe living in the East Kameng district near the border with Bhutan in Tawang.
26. Wancho: They are the indigenous Naga people inhabiting the Patkai hills of Longding district in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
What research says about the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh?
There’s still a lot of mystery about the existence and origination of the tribes in Arunachal Pradesh. It’s all because the researchers who have visited here to date haven’t conducted very deep research to bring light to the life of these people.
Whatever little is known has been passed down from generation to generation via. oral traditions. And a very few of those oral stories have been heard so far and fewer than those are written in the books and webpages.
Various research-related data makes it a wide belief that the tribes who inhabit this land now, came from Burma (present-day Myanmar) and Tibet, where Mongoloid tribal groups with similar cultures still live.
Over the years of immigration, and due to the course inter-tribal and intra-tribal marriage various disputes have occurred between the tribes. This has also resulted in the groups scattering across the region.
In addition to that, over the course of years, natural calamities that had occurred in the area forced the tribes to take up different habitats and adapt to the nature of their geophysical surroundings as well.
When you’re in Arunachal Pradesh, you will hear a lot of stories about inter-tribal warfare, when tribes battled for supremacy and better lands.
Although you can’t see any visible boundaries as most of the tribal territories of Arunachal Pradesh are invisibly marked.
Every tribe knows its territories and the rivers that come under them and which particular clan alone has hunting or fishing rights over that area.
And, in order to maintain a distinct identity, each tribe used tattoos, headgears, or nose plugs.
This all has resulted in the present-day presence of the different tribes, their different heritage, rituals, customs, way of living, occupation, etc. with various to a few similarities amongst the different tribes.
Conclusion: The Final Words
There 26 major tribes inhabiting the states of Arunachal Pradesh in India. About 100 sub-tribes have originated from these 26 major tribes which have a fewer population density in the state.
To understand sub-tribes just take the example of the Mishmis that inhabit the Dibang Valley. They have three sub-groups (sub-tribes) – Idus, Digaros, and Mijus. Further, each sub-tribe has its own unique culture, customs, practices, language, and folklore.
Some of the sub-tribes of Arunachal Pradesh are Padam, Minyong, Pangis, Shimong, Ashing, Pasi, Karko, Bokar, Bori, Ramo, Pailibo, Milan, Tangam, Tangin, Idu Mishmi, Digaro, Miju Mishmi, and many more.
Throughout the state, these tribal people generally share similar rural lifestyles and occupations.
Dispersed villages and isolated farmsteads are typical features of their landscape.