Tribal voices worth listening to: On culture, land rights, employment, education and indigenous languages – Andaman, Kerala & Odisha

Dongria Kondh woman in millet field, Orissa, India © Toby Nicholas/Survival

Unless we affirm our culture and right and language, we won’t live. Our colour is good, our language is good, our art is good, our way of living is good. If we can respect your religion and your practices, why can’t you respect ours?” – G. Thenadikulam, Wayanad District

“We say, ‘you don’t have to take care of us. We’ll take care of ourselves. We’ll lead our lives the way we know.” – Arjun Chandi, Majhi Kondh

Land is what will see us through, not only us but our children. We will not give up our land for anything in this world. If we give our land for mining it will not make our lives any better. In fact, we will end up with no jobs, no land and no home.” – S. Pollanna, Ananthagiri

“[The Jarawa’s] knowledge of indigenous plants, herbs, diseases, and creatures of the jungle is immense and needs no schooling. No one can really educate them further. It is we, who need to be educated because soon all this knowledge will evaporate, with the immanent danger of the extinction of the tribe.” – Anvita Abbi, Professor of Linguistics, Jawaharlal Nehru University


Source: Proud not primitive info – Survival International
Date Visited: Mon Apr 24 2017 12:42:34 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Prof. Anvita Abbi, formerly Professor of Linguistics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, is known for her pioneering work on many tribal and minority languages of South Asia. She has authored eighteen books, among them An Ancient Tale from Andaman (2012), Dictionary of the Great Andamanese Language (2012), Grammar of the Great Andamanese Language: An Ethnographic Study (2013), Jiro Mithe (2013) and Unwritten Languages of India (2017) and Route to Oral Literature(2018). She has occupied teaching positions at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, and at the La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, among others. For her outstanding work on the highly endangered languages of the Andaman Islands, she was conferred with the Rashtriya Lok-Bhasha Samman in 2003, the Padmashri Award in 2013 and the Kenneth Hale Award in 2015.

She has also been the Honorary Director of the Centre of Oral and Tribal Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, and the President of the Linguistic Society of India. Presently she is holding the B.B. Borkar Chair of Comparative Literature, Goa University. She may be contacted at the email ID:

Source: Adivasi Creation Myths: An Enquiry into Our Beginnings (The Johar Journal, Issue 01, July-Dec 2020)
Date visited: 24 January 2021

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The Johar Journal
The Johar Journal (द जोहार जर्नल ) is an online open-access, peer-reviewed, biannual journal on Adivasi, tribal and indigenous issues with particular focus on tribal literatures in translation.
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“In Rayagada in Odisha, Kondh parents distinguish between dangar patha (mountain learning) and kagaj patha (paper learning). Asked which they prefer, many parents answer ‘both’. This expresses a need deeply felt by Adivasis: literacy, with fluency in the regional language or English, is important; but so is respect for native languages and knowledge systems linked to the land and forest.” – Felix Padel & Malvika Gupta in “Are mega residential schools wiping out India’s Adivasi culture?” | Read the full article in The Hindu (13 February 2021) | Indian tribal cultural heritage >>

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