Ms. Namrata Ghosh 
Student, College of Nursing
AIIMS, Deoghar
Mobile: 9365082160
Email: bk.diya2010@gmail.com

Ms. Pritha Biswas
Student, College of Nursing
AIIMS, Deoghar
Mobile – 9903313328
Email: prithabiswas26@gmail.com


Indigenous people are those ethnic and cultural groups, who mainly view the nature and ancestral lines as their only roots. This paper serves the purpose of enriching and enlightening their heritage and tradition. Commonly known as ‘Adivasis’, there are 705 officially recognized ethnic groups in India. According to the Press Information Bureau, GOI; census of 2011 states that 8.9% of the national population comprises of the indigenous people hence India is the second largest tribal population in the world. Some of the lesser-known indigenous groups are the Kurumbas, from the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; Apatanis, living in the lower sub-district of Arunachal Pradesh; Warli from Maharashtra; Bodo from Assam and the Great Andamanese tribe from the islands of Andaman, along with the other countless groups which resides in various parts of our country with pride.

No doubt, a lot of rights, revolutions and controversies have resulted in arrival of the groups in front of the government as well as the normal people but there is a huge gap of information and awareness regarding their cultural believes and practices in the mindsets of citizens. Our approach is to fill this void and strengthen their existence in the current society. We need a higher level of communication in between the groups and the decision makers for a mutual understanding as well as the goal establishment, which furthermore requires a greater number of representatives from the indigenous groups. Youth being the backbone of our country should be well- knowledgeable about the aboriginal natives and their importance. Social media and more use of cinematography will play a useful tool in drawing the attention of our tech- savy generation for this purpose. As habitat of the native groups is the nature itself and they know how to protect it, they can be presented as the biggest example of sustainable development on a bigger platform. With certain rules and regulations, their rich heritage can be explored by the tourism sector.

As a conclusion, we are focusing on strengthening the rich culture and heritage of indigenous groups to enhance their socio-economic status.

Keywords: Aboriginal natives; Adivasis; Controversies; Origin; Sentinelese; Revolutions

Research Article


Indigenous people are those ethnic and cultural groups, who mainly view the nature and ancestral lines as their only roots. These are the aboriginal

natives of India, who give up their everything to secure their roots and past for their future. They can be seen as the torchbearers of nature preservation not only in India but worldwide. Such courage and possessiveness for culture and nature, preserving heritage and habitats are something admirable about these people. Due to globalization, multi-media, jurisdiction these groups have come in consideration to others but now it’s time to bring them in the lime-light and strengthen their existence in the society.

Commonly known as ‘Adivasis’, there are 705 officially recognized ethnic groups in India. According to the Press Information Bureau, GOI; census of 2011 states that 8.9% of the national population comprises of the indigenous people hence India is the second largest tribal population in the world. Some of the lesser-known indigenous groups are the Kurumbas, from the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu; Apatanis, living in the lower sub-district of Arunachal Pradesh; Warli from Maharashtra; Bodo from Assam and the Great Andamanese tribe from the islands of Andaman, along with the other countless groups which resides in various parts of our country with pride.

Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Karnataka are the State having a larger number of Scheduled Tribes These states account for 83.2% of the total Scheduled Tribe population of the country. Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Jammu & Kashmir, Tripura, Mizoram, Bihar, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, accounting for another 15.3% of the total Scheduled Tribe population.



A brief information about their history is given below-Origin of Indigenous groups, according to Wikipedia-Though claimed to be the original inhabitants of India, many present-day Adivasi communities formed after the decline of the Indus Valley civilization, harboring various degrees of ancestry from ancient hunter-gatherers, Indus Valley civilization, Indo-Aryan, Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman language speakers. Only tribal people of Andaman Islands remained isolated for more than 25000 years. Tribe in India are characterized by their discrete lifestyle but unlike Dalits, Adivasis were not held to be intrinsically impure by surrounding populations. In the ancient and medieval era, they often enjoyed autonomy and would enhance their hunter- gatherer and farming economies. In some areas, considering Adivasi approval and support were important for the rulers. There are references to alliances between Ahom kings of Brahmaputra valley and hill Nagas. The independence or the autonomy of the groups were disturbed by the invasion of Mughals in the early 16th century. Many rebellions were fought against them by the groups. During British period (1857-1947), colonial administration by the British brought upon the tribes led to many resentments and conflicts among them. Talking about the history, there is a tribe which is the most isolated in the whole world, The Sentinelese and the Jarawas. They are known for their violence and unwillingness to communicate with any outsiders. They live in parts of South Andaman and Middle Andaman Islands and their present numbers are estimated at between 250-400 individuals. As being the most unknown to us, these tribes are under lot of researches and studies. Various movies are made on them to widespread their existence. Here we would mention about, an Indian anthropologist, Madhumala Chattopadhyay who along with her colleagues was successful to make peaceful contact with the Sentinelese people, who are the most dangerous tribes of all time.

After knowing the unknown, we would like to mention here the oldest tribe of our country, Santhal tribe. The community is largely concentrated in the states of Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It is also the third largest Scheduled Tribe community in the country after the Gonds and the Bhil. Our respective president, Droupadi Murmu created history being India’s first tribal president. Their primary occupation was agriculture and members of the community worship nature and follow their own religion, Sarna.


The indigenous people are the ancient inhabitants of the land. They survived on the natural resources and safeguard their inherited realm. During the British reign in India, many revolts & protests were made for the protection of their land. The British imposed taxes on the Tribal lands and restrictions were forced on forest products. Birsa Munda, a freedom fighter from the Munda tribal community, is a hero of the nation who rebelled against the British for exploitation of their land. Some among the tribal communities who took a step and revolted against them: Bhil Uprising (1818), Munda Uprisings (1894), Khond Rebellion (1837), Santhal Rebellion (1855), Ahom’s Revolt (1828), Naga Movement (1905).

Bhil, a tribal community spread over the states of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, were among the first, who revolted for the jarring behaviour of the British, who denied their forest rights. The Santhal Rebellion led by the Santhal tribes, who constitute the major tribal population of Jharkhand, Bihar & West Bengal, are the oldest inhabitants. They protested to end the revenue and the zamindari system started by the British East India Company. In the year 2004, The Battle of Niyamgiri fought by the Dongria Kondh tribe who lives in the Mountains of Niyamgiri in Odisha, powerfully protested against the mining of Bauxite in their hills by a foreign company.


India has several laws and constitutional provisions, such as the Fifth Schedule for central India and the Sixth Schedule for certain areas of north-east India, which recognise Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land and self-governance. The laws aimed at protecting Indigenous Peoples have numerous shortcomings and their implementation is far from satisfactory. According to the 2011 census, Madhya Pradesh has the highest

number of tribes followed by Odisha. As per their political position, Lok Sabha has 47 seats for the scheduled tribes and 84 seats reserved for the scheduled castes.

The present circumstances of these aboriginals are improving due to support from Various organizations and also as a result of their revolt in the past. IWGIA, an international organization which encourages the right of the Indigenous people around the globe. The Govt. of India, under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, formed TRIFED, a communal body for the trading of products produced by the tribal people at a fair price. HRDS INDIA, an NGO which was developed for the protection and progress of the tribal people. In 1994, the UN General Assembly decided to celebrate August 9 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Irrespective of all the struggles and hardship, these Native people have gone forth and joined hands in leading the Nation. This took a big step, when Droupadi Murmu from the Mayurbhanj, a tribal- dominated district in Odisha was announced the president of India. She faced many obstructions and suffered many losses during her journey to get to the highest constitutional post of the nation. From the primeval time, the tribal community is safeguarding the nature. To glorify their effort, last year the Govt, awarded the Padma shri to a 72-year-old woman, Tulasi Gowda, belonging to the Halakki tribe of Karnataka for her contribution in protecting the environment.


The indigenous groups have faced a lot of problems ever since they came into existence. From the very beginning, they are facing hardships on various aspects of life. Some of the major issues and hardships faced by the indigenous people are enlisted below:

-Discrimination against Indigenous women

-Witch hunting

-Violations of the rights of Indigenous people by the security forces and armed opposition groups

-Non-restoration of alienated tribal land

-Conditions of internally displaced people

-Repression under forced laws

-Economic vulnerability



No doubt, the state along with the government are trying hard to make our aboriginal natives close to us by making various policies and rules for protecting them from any kind of invasions. The main thing to focus here is that they should be involved enough for the decisions made regarding them, as they know in detail how their habitat or community works. We have to ensure that we are encouraging them to come in the front rather than interfering or invading their lands. For this we have to provide them such opportunities and platforms so that they are able to speak about their demands. Not only through political organizations, but various social representatives who are eligible enough to act as a communication medium between the groups and the country are required. The main barrier which comes in between the communication is the language barrier. For overcoming this restraint, we have to sensitively deal with the cultures and heritage of the groups. Translators or messengers who are trustworthy and can be relied regarding enlisting demands or suggestions of the tribals to the officials. We have to give them appropriate platforms so that the people themselves can make changes for them, suggestions or decisions should be taken from the groups itself, as no one know their nature better than they do. So, the rules, policies or changes which are imposed for them should be of their choice and not enforced on them. This would bring a sense of equality and dignity to the groups which further would help in gaining their trust and cooperation. We can help them grow holistically by providing free education and facilities to the groups as an encouragement for their future generations.

Along with education, the facilities will help the families in various ways and contribute to their welfare. If they become highly educated and knowledgeable, the days are not far when they will seize each opportunity they get and contribute to the society. We have to keep in our minds that as they are possessive for their habitat and culture, so we have to take this step very patiently and considerably. We have to see that the rules or policies which are made for them, are strictly followed or not. More number of supervisors from the groups itself will help the officials or organizations to identify the issues, rectify and then function in a more effective way. It is necessary to make them understand that the decisions or steps taken are in favour of their culture and habitat without causing any harm to them and work with the morals of their welfare and betterment solely.


In today’s world, the strongest channel of mass communication is social media. Each and every person now has the whole world in his pockets due to the availability of electronic gadgets connected to networks and broadband. Whenever a video or post is shared online the feedback received and the speed of sharing of the content, is just a matter of time. Social media acts as a major medium of spreading awareness and knowledge if used with the same intention. Composition of various videos, short movies, films, documentaries on the lifestyle or culture of indigenous groups can help strengthen their existence to the newer and upcoming tech savy generations. The culture of going to a library and reading any book for gathering knowledge and awareness has decreased during these times. So, it’s better if the tools we are using for mass communication are the most common ones being easily accessible and social media is one of them.‘Bhediya’ a Bollywood movie, which is based on the tribals of Arunachal Pradesh and their nature is recently released. We need more such contents and creations not only in movie theatres but in the OTT setups, television setup, documentaries or web series on their past, present and future. We have to encourage them to come in the forefront by using these tools too. Providing proper resources and motivating them to proudly present their cultures and practices in front of the whole world can help them become “updated” socially, not just only in Facebook.

We can conduct various online contests of forming contents, short stories, reels or documentaries on their life and based on their views or feedbacks we can provide prizes. We can involve them more in the film industry by broadcasting their culture and heritage by their help only, it would be a matter of pride for them too to present themselves and become their own brand ambassadors. Making various songs using their traditional instruments regarding their lifestyle and cultures, featuring them itself in the music videos for making them famous are small steps which can be taken. Here, we would like to mention such two such initiatives; Niranjan Kujur’s DIBI DURGA, a short film based on a day in the life of an indigenous woman (from Santhal tribe in the Purulia district of West Bengal) and Director Priyandan’s DHABARI QURUVI which is the first film in Indian cinema to only star indigenous people. The movie had its world premiere in the Indian Panorama section at 53rd International Film Festival of India in Goa on 25th November. We need these types of more initiatives which would give the Indigenous India a voice through the visual medium.

The youth is the backbone of any country and for drawing the attention of today’s youth there is no better platform than social media. We have to focus on showing what is the originality of

aboriginal natives through various AV aids so that the upcoming generation of the country would work hand in hand be it of the major populations or the indigenous populations.


Being the people of their lands and ancestral roots, they have vast culture and heritage of themselves. Their skills and handicrafts set an example for being vocal for local as per our respective prime minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. Not only their handicrafts should be appraised but it can be a source of their income too. Tribal paintings depicting their life stories, their miniature works, handicrafts, woven clothes etc. should be known to the country on a large platform. Conducting various events or Melas so they can showcase their talents or culture can help enhance their cultural as well as socio-economic status. In many places, during festivals or seasons various Melas are being organized in which talents of these people are showcased. One of them the ‘Hastashilpa Mela’ conducted every year in West Bengal mostly in the months of November and December. Here main thing we would point out that these melas or events organized should be held keeping all the geographical, weather forecasting, transportation and communication factors in the minds prior. This would result in avoiding the potential mishaps due to any sudden calamities. Various reality shows for them, then talent hunts, exhibitions should be organized and broadcasted so the whole world can know about their uniqueness and existence. One recent highlight of such an initiative is an exhibition held on 30th September to 3th October in Gandhinagar, Gujarat forecasting the Bhil and Gond original tribal paintings. Showcasing the skills and talents they have will enhance their sense of dignity in the present world. We can also provide rewards and incentives to the ones organizing such events so that even they get recognized for their humble work. Educational tours and visits to such exhibitions, huge number of involvement of students, participation of local people and then usage of their handwork will result in the success of such initiatives.

The more the people come to know about their talents and creations the more they will indulge in using them for different settings of life like decorations, workshops, clothing, cosmetics etc. Not to forget their handicrafts and creations can even be distributed through means of online shopping beyond borders, as per the modernization and globalization going on.

Museums can also act as a showcase of creations of the indigenous people.


Who would care and protect the nature and its resources more than the people of the nature itself. As per UN, the Indigenous communities make up less than 5 percent of world’s total population, but they protect more than 20 percent of land and 80 percent of its biodiversity.

The Aboriginal folks have requisite forces for the conservation of the ecosystem. They utilize nature for their living and also to protect its allure. They set notable example how to achieve the goal of sustainable development – a balance of the necessities in present and for future. Exploitation of natural resources have escalated in past years which has remarkable effected climate and lifestyle. Archana Soreng, a 24-year-old woman from Odisha, is a member of the Khadia tribe who has been appointed to UN Youth Secretary Group for advising on climate change. Their work and accomplishment must be spread around the globe through various printed forms and social media, so that people can come forward and join hands with them to save our mother nature.

The way they stay fierce and protective when it comes to their environment and nature isan eye opener and a big example of how we should protect our mother earth. If we inculcate their morals and principles of saving the environment and use sustainable techniques for growth, it would be the real meaning of protecting the nature. Their strong principles and morals could be used as themes for various meets and conventions. Based on the themes upcoming projects and ideas could be made with an intention to save our resources for present as well as the future generations.

In the lower classes itself when the children are introduced with the topic of ‘Sustainable Development’ in respective subjects be it Geography or Environmental Studies there itself the importance of Indigenous groups in saving the nature should be highlighted. Even they understand how the resources should be utilized in such a manner that it is enough for the future generations, which is a big example in front of the mankind. The smallest ways of using the fuel efficiently, the greeneries, the natural fertilizers, using the abundant sunlight available to us, tree shades, banana leaves and coconut leaves for curing burns, using turmeric or similar natural products for enhancing healing and repairing; these small changes which should be brought in the limelight and to be informed well to the country especially the urban area. There is a trend of intaking or using everything organic in the posh population of our country, we might take this as an advantage to introduce more such remedies and usage of minimum but adequate resources.


There is nothing more mesmerizing than the scenic beauty of green lands, mountains, waterfalls and forests. That aesthetic feeling of being detached and away from the sounds or noise of traffic, industries is everything nowadays people look for spending leisure time or vacations.

Getting to know the original nature without disturbing them or interfering and just being a recipient of the hospitability of the indigenous groups of people is something we should try to achieve. Most of the tribal areas are situated in beautiful green forests with abundant wildlife and flora. Being possessive for their habitat, they fear the involvement or interference of outsiders. They think this would lead to disturbance of their daily life and see this as a big disregard. Overcoming this situation would be difficult but not impossible. The tourism sector before planning or setting tourist spots in sensitive areas, should first ensure the groups and gain their confidence that our main intention is just to explore the scenic beauty of their habitat, not about disturbing or causing destructions to their nature or heritage. The Ministry of Tourism sanctioned a project on February 2016, “Development of Tribal Circuit: Jashpur- Kunkuri- Mainpat- Kamleshpur- Maheshpur- Kurdar-Sarodadadar- Gangrel- Kondagaon- Nathiya Nawagaon- Jagdalpur- Chitrakoot- Tirthgarh in Chhattisgarh” under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.

We need to arrange more excursions, expeditions, tours, trekking camps to educate the enthusiasts regarding their heritage buildings. Yes, the point to mainly highlight here is that we have to make sure the tourist spots are not being littered by the tourists. This responsibility of respecting their heritage and not making it a place of mere selfie spot is ours as the citizens along with the care takers or trip organizers. We have to keep in mind that those heritage and historic places are homes of the aboriginal natives and treat it in the similar manner. Groups residing in the isolated islands of be it Andaman or Maharashtra, they need to be identified and brought in the front with glory. We have to keep in mind not to rush into anything, consent for coming and exploring into their habitat and heritage is very important. The way we approach and make them understand what is our intention, will be the way they will perceive us and respond in the similar manner.

These were some of the suggestions or modifications we would like to have in our society regarding the culturally rich natives of us. We have above suggested some very basic level ideas according to the current situation of our society. Most of the topics are known but only to people who try writing paper like this and to the eminent experts, we would like that this vast topic is brought in front of each and every citizen, introduced to the school going children in the early stage itself so that there is no discrimination in the future and we all together would be able to create a beautiful place to live in. Just as the spelling tells too, our Indigenous are Indians too, they are our own people, our aboriginal natives, we have to give them that place of dignity and respect so that they don’t keep themselves isolated from us too. We have above suggested some very basic level ideas according to the current situation of our society.


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