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 ANDAMANESE TRIBES

 History 

Andamanese tribes are of the islands of Andaman. These Indian tribes are a part of negrito tribal family. With quite a hetitlehy population, Andamanese tribes of India were once on the verge of extinct. Population status of these tribal people is not much known but,they are known for a unique culture, physical stature and occupation. These tribes of India had several sub groups but most of them disappeared over a period of time. The population of the tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is quite negligible. The Nicobarese tribe men count upto 30,000.

Onges are one of the most primitive tribes in India. The Onges are inhabiting the Little Andaman Island. This Hunting and Gathering tribe has also been settled by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration at Dugong Creek and South Bay on Little Andaman Island at present. Coconut plantation has been raised for the benefit of Onges. Medical care, free ration etc. are being provided at these two Settlement by the Administration. Onges go for hunting and fishing occasionally. The present population of Onges is 105.

They were once the largest in population among the various tribes inhabiting the Andaman Islands. Their estimated population in 1789 was 10,000. By 1901, their number had decreased to 625 and by 1969 their number had decreased to 19 only. According to the Census of 1971, only 24 of them survived, but by 1999 their number has increased to 41. The Administration is doing its best to protect and preserve these tribes. These tribals have been rehabilitated in a small island named Strait Island. The Great Andamanese are foragers. Some of them cultivate vegetables. Of late, they have established poultry farms. They are exposed to highly communicable diseases besides unhetitlehy drinking habits which of course are acquired after contact with the monbund urban dominant and advanced communities.

Place /Location (then and now)
Andamanese & Nicobar Island
Population
30000
Languages spoken
Jeru, Khora and Andamani Hindi
Food
rice, wheat, dal, chapati

Culture

The diverse culture of these tribes of India is a unique feature. Men amongst the Great Andamanese tribes wear narrow belts or girdles of hibiscus fiber. They usually have a heavy body, so it suits their personality. You can also see weapons tucked into their belts when they go for hunting. The women folk of these tribes of India have a typical tribal dress sense. Branches of leaves cut into stripes held by belt of pandanus leaves and tail skirt amongst the girls form the dress code of women of Andamanese tribes of India. A distinctive feature of women of these tribes of India is their painted bodies.

 Occupation 

Hunting is the main source of food and occupation with these tribes of India. Moreover these tribes in India also cultivate vegetables and run poultry farm for their livelihood.

 People 

The Great Andamanese tribe is settled presently on the Strait Island by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration. This was the largest tribe earlier before the establishment of Penal Settlement in Andaman Islands. Various diseases including influenza etc. took large toll and the population was reduced to present 44 individuals only. The Administration has provided to the Andamanese houses and raised Coconut Plantation. Further free ration including cloths is also being provided to them. As such, Andamanese are no longer a nomadic tribe. However, they do sometime go for hunting and fishing.

 Food 

These tribes of India eat almost all the variety of food. Andamanese tribes usually eat rice, wheat, dal, chapati etc. Besides this, Great Andamanese tribes also prefer non vegetarian stuff such as fish, turtle eggs, crabs, roots, seeds and tubers. Pork and Andaman water monitor lizard are the prime eat up of Andamanese tribes of India. Today, they eat rice, dal chapati and other modern food articles. They can cook food with an assortment of spices. At times, they still go for hunting and gathering. As aquatic people, they relish octopus, molluscs taken out from shell marine animals like turban shell, scorpion shell, sundial, helmet, trochus and screw shell besides various types of crabs and fish.

 Language 

These tribes of India are generally known for three absolutely different types of language they speak. Jeru, Khora and Andamani Hindi are the major languages spoken by Andamanese tribes of India.

 Festivals 

A fortnight long festival organized by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration every year gives a festive look to the Islands. Govt. agencies and private entrepreneurs from the islands and Mainland India also attend the exhibition organized during the festival. The exhibition highlights the developmental aspects of these islands. Cultural troupes and artistes of national and international fame are invited to perform during the festival apart from performances by the talents of these islands including tribals.

 


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