|The population of Arunachal Pradesh is 10, 97.968 lakhs, according to 2001 provisional census, scattered over 17 towns and 3649 villages that are thronged by 26 major lively tribes co-existing with many sub-tribes. The density of the tribal populace is very less. People are of mongoloid breeds and most of the tribes inhabiting the terrain are ethnically identical but the geographical seclusion from each other has endowed certain distinctive characteristics in language, dress and customs. They are famous for their preserved rich cultural heritage. The people are naive, amicable, and sociable. Their various vibrant festivals signify their faith and belief.
The tribal’s society is based on patriarchal and primogeniture system thus the primary decree of bequeathing with distinction are not unusual. They practice endogamy and stringently observe the law of clan exogamy. Polygamy is socially legitimate in some of the tribes and is practiced by most of them. The tribals are extremely democratic, and each tribe has its own structured institutions that sustain law and order, settle on disputes and undertakes every activity for the welfare of the tribes and the villages. The villagers select the members to run the village councils.
The complete populace of the state can be divided into three cultural clusters based on the origin of their socio-politico-religious resemblance. The tribal societies are casteless and they are administrated by Chiefs and the Senior Members of the villages.
The Tirap District bordered by Nagaland in the South western faction is inhabited by the Wancho Tribes. The traditional hallmark of the tribes’ is wood and bamboo carved figurines. They also make intricate necklaces of colourful beads, the width of which indicate the status of the person they adorn. The indigenous headgears, strings of precious beads on the neck, ears and elephant tusk on the arms are. They are believers of indigenous faiths.
To the north of the Wancho habitat, the central part of the Tirap District is dominated by the NOKTE tribe. The tribes are famous for being expert head hunters in ancient times. The traditional gears of the Noctes are alike to the Wancho tribes. They are also expert in wood carving. These are hardy people known for their strictly structured village society in which the hereditary village chief still plays a vital role. The Noctes also practice elementary form of Vaishnavism.
Changlang District is located in the vicinity of the Indo-Myanmar border. The combine of many sub-tribes namely, Longchang, Muklom, Jugli, Longri, Havi, Mossang, Tikhak, Ponthai, Kimsing and Longphi are known as TANGSAS. All the sub tribes are divided into number of exogamous clans. Religiously, the tribe is influenced by Christianity and Buddhism.The Singpho Tribes occupies the banks of Teang and Nao Dehing rivers of Changlang District. The Singpho rulers had very cordial relation with the British Empire during the pre-independence era. The males are expert blacksmiths and the ladies good weavers. They are follower of Buddhism (Hinayana sect). They have migrated from Thailand and Myanmar and are still utilizing ancient scripts derived from their original native soil.
The Southern portion of Lohit District is dwelled by the Tai-Khamti tribe. The Tai Khamti group has social and traditional links with Thailand, Laos, China and Burma. According to history, the Tai Khamti community was also valiant soldiers who clashed with the powerful British empires but due to lack of sophisticated weapons, modern technologies and skilled men power their rigid resistances were trampled by the mighty British army. The Tai- Khamti community is good craftsmen, enterprising traders and skilful agriculturists. Alike the Singpho’s they are also follower of Buddhism.
The Mishmis tribe is divided into three main groups namely, Idu, Mijis (Kaman) and Digaru (Taraon). The distinct characteristic of the Idus are that the tribe is divided into sections and each sections is christened after the river, by which they resides. The exceptional hairstyle of the Idus distinguishes them from the other tribes.
The eastern part of Lohit District is dominated by approximately 18,000 populaces of Mijis (Kamans) tribes. The Kaman women possess venerable sense of colours and patterns that makes their traditional dresses elegant and durable. The Digarus are identified as Taraon. Like all the tribes of Arunachal their main occupation is also agriculture.
The Adi tribe inhabits in East, West and Upper Siang District. They are divided into three main groups namely Galos, Padams and Minyongs, each consisting of many sub-tribes. The Adis are famous for their many traditional dances. Ponung is a customary dance of the Adis with religious characteristic. The Galos weaves traditional dresses of innovative designs. The Beautiful rugs are also woven by the Adi communities. Vivid colour and exquisite patterns are the hall mark of their weaving. Adis extensively practice wet-rice cultivation and have a considerable agricultural economy.
The Kebang’ or Village council which is a greatly organised political institution is the remarkable element of the Padam and Minyong Community. Beside this outstanding facet The Tuting province nearby the International Border of Indo-China is dominated by the KHAMBAS who are the follower of Buddhism and famous for their traditional dances. The Northern Border of Upper Siang District is dwelled by the MEMBAS who are also the follower of Buddhism.
The TAGINS territory extends from the North along the banks of the Sipi River. Their selection of shaded mountains for the settlement of villages confers them an additional name known as MOYAS. Agriculture is the main occupation of the tribe.
The Lower Kamla valley is occupied by the HILL MIRIS. Alike the Idus they can also be distinguished after their unique hairstyles, they knot the hairs just above the forehead. The woman wears the beautiful fabrics of cane rings as blouse. The APATANIS Inhabits the plateau between the Kamala, Khru and Panior ranges in the Eastern Himalayas, 5,000 feet above sea level. Their Village patterns are very congested. They are famous for the facial tattoos of the women’s. They are also proficient agriculturist and their agricultural paddy fields are well developed and irrigated. Apatanis are also famous for their paddy-cum-pisciculture. They harvest two species of fish along with each crop of paddy. Organic fertilizers are used to protect and feed the aqua life and enhance the soil fertility. The APATANIS uses indigenous salts and papers.
The NYISHIS are the highly populated tribe of Arunachal. They are also divided into many exogamous clans. Along with the traditional attire the male fraternity wears cane bands around the waist. They worship nature and make animal sacrifices and traditionally practice Jhuming or shifting cultivation. Their religious rituals mostly coincide with the phases of agricultural cycles. Nyishis also craft stunning articles in cane and bamboo.
Due to the extraordinary custom of painting the faces with black marks, the Hrussos are commonly referred as AKAS. The historical records often featured this tribe. They are known to be good traders by professions.
The Tawang and West Kameng District is the homeland of the MONPAS and SHERDUKPENS. The fascinating mingles of Mahayana Buddhism and sacred beliefs signify their faith. The villages of these societies have splendidly decorated Buddhist temples, locally called ‘Gompas’. Basically, practices terrace cultivation but scores of these people are also pastoral and breed herds of Yak and mountain sheep. Monpas are also well-known for their artistry in weaving carpet and making painted wooden vessels. The communities that co-exist in the high mountains along the northern borders who are ethnically similar to them are Membas and Khambas.
In the vicinity of the Sherdukpens region, the seven villages in Teilga and Bichum valley is the settled territory of the KHOWAS (Bugun) who are the follower of Buddhism. The elevating altitudes of the Kameng District are occupied by the PUROIKS (Sullungs). Their traditional attires are identical to the Nyishis.