Mishings: A Portrait of the Traditional Social System                Page : 13

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                                                                      I
Assam is a land of numerous tribes having different ethnic and linguistic background. Since time immemorial , numerous tribes migrated to the Brahmaputra Valley (including the present hill States of NorthEast India) and settled down permanently in this region. They mainly consist of the Indo-Austric (the Khasis), Dravidians (Kaibartas) and Mongoloid  (Boro-Kachari, Naga, Chin- Kuki, Mishings and Arunachal Tribes). It is said that the tribes belonging to the Mongoloid stock of Tibet and Central China migrated to North-Eaatern India and Assam along the Brahmaputra and its tributaries (Gait ; 1905; Narzi ; 1966). Several early British administrators had drawn vivid pictures of the tribes of Assam through their writings and monographs (M'Cosh : 1837; Robinson : 1841; Hunter : 1879; Michell : 1883; Waddell : 1901; Gait : 1905; Endle : 1911; Baines : 1912).

            There are various tribes in the hills and plains of present Assam. The major hill tribes of Assam are the Dimasas, the Mikirs (Karbi) and a few Naga and the Mizo tribes. Among the plain tribes, the Boro-Kacharis, the Kacharis, the Lalungs (Tiwa), the Deories, the Miris (Mishings) can be regarded as the major tribes.  Their kinship system and social institutions differ from each other, even though, most of them have become Hindus (Gait : 1905; Devi : 1968; Dubey : 1977).

            The following tables indicate the tribes of Assam in broad ethnic groups, their population, district wise distribution of population, percentage to total population and increase in percentage during 1961-71.

                    Table 2.1
                    Schedule Tribe Population in Assam1
                    (Based on 1971)

Tribes

Total Population

Male Female

P.C. to total
tribal population

A.Boro-Kachari-group
Boro-Kachari

610,459

308,768

301,691

32.97

Kachari including Sonowal 198,619 102,547 97,072 10.74
Rabha 138,630 71,497 67,133

 7.48

Barmans 18,210 6,761 6,449         0.71
Dimasa(Kacharis) 39,344 20,713 18,631         2.13
Mech 2,570 1,276 1,294         0.15
Hajong 387 228 159         0.02
Lalung 95,609 48,397 47,212         5.16
Hmar 13,230 6,659 6,571         0.71
Hojai 2,298 1,135 1,163         0.12
B.Kuki-chin
Kuki group of tribes 21,034 11,150 9,884         1.14
Mizo(Luchai group of tribes) 242,689 4,294 4,201         13.12

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