India is home to over a fifth of the world’s population. 8.6% of India’s population is made up of it’s tribal people, who are known as Adivasi. They have a rich history dating back thousands of years. Their culture and traditions haven’t changed much over time, either.

Adivasi is a term that represents a wide range of tribal people, all living in rural areas scattered across India and some neighboring countries. They are mostly all farmers, living solely off the land. Scholars believe Adivasi were pushed deeper into the forests about 3,000 years ago when they were invaded by the Indo-Aryans. They remain in those places today, rarely venturing into large cities or populated areas. They have no reason to.

They are split up into around 700 tribes, all scattered around the country. They have a larger presence in the Northeast regions of India. There, they dwell in homes some may consider crude. LArgely built using branches and leaves, however, they are constructed quite ingeniously. Taking into account the weather and conditions they must withstand.


The women make food and travel long distances to gather as clean of water as they can find to use for cooking, drinking, and finally washing. The men farm and build. Women also help govern their communities, meeting often to discuss issues.


Children sometimes attend school, but it often ends at age 12, when they start working with their parents, unless their families have the financial means to, and want to send them off for further education, which is rare.

The children in their villages grow up and learn together. When they marry, family starts off again how their parents began. They have children to help lighten the workload.

Luckily for the Adivasi, they fall in a category outside India’s infamous caste system. Although some do marry into caste families, the majority choose to be with other tribal people, from almost anywhere.


Tribal people are “protected” by Indian law, but are facing more trouble as India has begun to modernize itself. Despite their protection, they have begun to face more prejudice and discrimination than ever before.

Recently, they marched into capital cities together, demanding the government stop allowing corporations to take their land from them. This happened in 2007, and again in 2012, despite the government promising reforms the first time.

Problems like these aren’t going away anytime soon for tribal people. As India gets closer and closer to becoming an economic superpower, more large businesses will want their land, leaving more Adivasi homeless, jobless, and stranded in tent cities outside capitals.

India’s tribal people have an expansive and long history full of color and struggle. They don’t need to be discriminated against, and should not ever be ignored or used. They should continue their traditions on the land they own, and prosper for more generations to come.