Courtesy: Google User (A good sketch of people on map. I wish higher resolution photo is available).


Arunachal has so many tribes and sub-tribes. In fact, each census returns different numbers of tribes fluctuating between 80 to 111 tribes. According to the Census 2011, these tribes constitute 9.52 lakhs (69%) of the State’s total population (13.84 lakhs).

Census No of Tribes
1961  80
1981  111
1991  110
2001  99
2011  106

A comment from Center for Policy Studies on the nature of Arunachal tribes:

Census 2001 counts as many as a 100 tribal communities in Arunachal Pradesh. Many of these represent very small groups. As many as 13 of these have less than 10 members, and 3 among them have only one member each. Only 47 of the 100 communities have more than a thousand members; these 47 communities exhaust all but 11 thousand of the total ST population of the State. Dividing the Scheduled Tribe populations into a great multiplicity of micro units is a peculiar feature of the Census in Arunachal Pradesh.


To understand better or perhaps for better priorities, I found a couple of groupings for the tribes.

  1. The Constitution of India recognized in terms of the Scheduled Tribes and stated: All tribes in the State including: 1. Abor 2. Aka 3. Apatani 4. Dafla 5. Galong 6. Khampti 7. Khowa 8. Mishmi, Idu, Taroan 9. Momba 10. Any Naga tribes 11. Sherdukpen 12. Singpho 13. Hrusso 14. Tagin 15. Khamba 16. Adi. Dafla is now changed to Nyishi.
  2. The Government of Arunachal Pradesh talks about 26 major tribes and 100 sub-tribes (By CM Pema Khandu). I could not locate the names of those 26 tribes even after several attempts. The nearest seems to be the one on AP Legislative Assembly site with 20 major tribes.
  3. The Wikipedia’s grouping is based on Cultural and Religious affinities: Tibetic area in the West, Aka/Hruso/Miji/Sherdukpen area between Tibetic and Tani Areas, Tani Area in the Center, Mishmi in the East, Tai/Singpho/Tangsa bordering Myanmar, and Naga Area in the South.

From the above three groupings, I found easier to remember and process well the last one. In later readings, I found similar division was done by noted anthropologist, Verrier Elwin (Directorate of Field Publicity Itanagar).

Map with Grouping of Tribes


Courtesy: Pasighat WordPress (I circled the regions on the map based on the cultural groupings of the Wikipedia and also added the names of region in blue).


When I looked up for these tribes with their allocated land, I am reminded of a passage of Scripture from the Bible:

God made one man. From that one man he has made all the nations of men to live on the whole earth. He has given to each nation a certain time and a certain place to live. – Acts 17:26 BWE

Two thoughts: One, though there are so many tribes, God’s Bible reminds us, we have common origin. Two, for each tribe God has appointed limited of habitation.

I will continue to look for the day when hundreds of Arunachalees return to their Creator.