North East India has been unique for the cultural and ethnic diversities it had contained peacefully for centuries. People of different races and cultures had come and settled, intermingling within these hospitable river valleys and mountains. The tribes are no longer left isolated. The modern world with it's industries and highways, markets and traders has moved closer to the remote tribal areas. Interestingly, the tribal Adivasis of North East India have by and large been able to preserve and practice a way of life which dates back to hundreds of years ago inspite of many changes that have taken place in the country in all these years.
The ethnic composition and cultural practice of the people of North East India and the waves of successive migration to the region for more than two thousand years has created a fusion of culture.
The Tibeto-Burmans migrated south from their original homeland in the Upper courses of Yangtze Kiang and Hwang-Ho. One of the Irano-Scythians groups skirted the Himalayan wall and arrived in northeast Burma from where they moved westward into Assam, but did not find it suitable and so moved along the Eastern Himalayan foothills to reach Bhutan, Tibet and Nepal. The other group , however, found the local conditions conducive and settled in different parts of northeast India. The Tibeto-Burmans can be linguistically divided into two main branches: North Assam and Assam-Burmese. The North Assam branches are those communities settled in Arunachal Pradesh, like the Adis, Nishis, Mishings and Mishimis. The Assam-Burmese group includes three groups: Bodos, Nagas and Kuki -Chins. None of these languages had a written form until the arrival of the Christian missionaries in the late 19th century.
For centuries the economy of the region was integrated with the hills. The hill tribes with rice, dried fish, silk from the plains, bartered raw cotton, rock salt, iron and oranges. Language was an important vehicle for barter economy. In Arunachal Pradesh till as late as 1970 a mixed Assamese was the only language for mutual communication among the different tribal communities. This hybrid language is known as Nagamese and still serves as the lingua franca in Nagaland.
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