Seven ethnic groups are on the verge of extinction

A team of the university students recently conducted a survey on the language and culture of these tribal groups.

Sources in the university say these tribal groups are Khamti, Phakial, Khamyang, Aitonia, Nara, Gurung and Shyam. Population of these tribes have been gradually decreasing in the last one decade
What happens to small artisans, small carpentersof these tribes, how will they be protected from the globalisation? How will tiny communities survive this onslaught? How are they to be prepared ? Has any thought been given to this or not ?

“Most of the people of these tribes had come to the region during British regime. The people of these tribes were expert in making wooden furnitures and they had been deployed to construct the wodden bunglows of the managers and staffs of the tea gardens”, they said.

Battling their way through treacherous terrain and malarial jungles, these tribal people reached Assam through historic Stillwell Road. The road connected with the Burma Road,which was an older one, having been used a jungle trail, they said.
As the Stillwell Road was no more after the Second World War, the people got no links with their aboriginal Chinese tribes.

One of the tribes, Khamtis were regarded as the most civilised tribes of Assam by the British administrator ET Denton, they recalled.

After independence of India, these tribes started facing identity crisis. Having alienated themselves from their earlier ancestors and forefathers, most of the people have lost links with their original language and culture.

“All the people were brothers and sisters and relatives of each other. They could not perform marriages among their relatives due to which the population have been decreasing gradually,” the report said.

However, fearing their extinction, some of these tribes shifted to other places and tried to merge with the other communities.

Following poverty, some of them mergeed with the people of other caste and creed. At present, there are less than 100 Khamtis living at different parts of Assam. The population of this tribe was 197 in 1981 cansus, while it decreased to 147 in 1991 census, the report said.The Fakials also merged with other tribes.

According to the report, about 60 Kamti families are living in Lakhimpur, 80 in Karbi Anglong, 30 in Sivasagar, 5 in Golaghat, 13 in Dibrugarh, 9 in Dhemaji district. The Khamtis living in Dhemaji have already merged with the local Missing people, while those living in Karbi Anglong started introducing themselves as Karbis.

Most of the people of Golaghat and Sivasagar districts have shifted to other places like
Namchai and Saukham is Arunachal Pradesh, it is said.

It is interesting to note that these tribal groups have not been recognised as the tribal people by the Government of India and no institution has started any survey or research on the language and culture of the groups.

None can say how long days these groups will survive.

By KS Pradeep