Scheduled Tribes – Kerala

What we are telling to the outer world is that no conservation would be possible without cooperation of the local community, especially the aborigines [Adivasis]. Integrating their traditional wisdom with modern-day scientific approach would definitely yield results.

Source: KH Amitha Bachan (researcher and consultant to Kerala Forest Department and the World Wildlife Fund-India Ecological Monitoring Programme) quoted in “An Adivasi community in Kerala has united to save the region’s dwindling hornbill population”
Date Visited: 20 February 2023

Tribals in Kerala (known in Malayalam as the Adivasis) are the tribal population found in the Indian state of Kerala. Most of the tribals of Kerala live in the forests and mountains of Western Ghats, bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Tribals in Kerala are officially designated as “Scheduled Tribes” for affirmative action purposes.[1] Kerala Public Service Commission, Government of Kerala, lists thirty-six of Scheduled Tribes in Kerala.[1] Tribals in Kerala are classified by Scheduled Tribes Development Department, Government of Kerala into three sub-sets (Particularly Vulnerable, Marginalised and Minorities).[2]

According to the 2011 Census of India, the Scheduled Tribe population in Kerala is 4,84,839 (1.5 % of the total population).[2] Wayanad district has the highest number of tribals (1,51,443) in Kerala, followed by Idukki (55,815), Palakkad (48,972) and Kasaragod (48,857) and Kannur districts (41,371).[2] Paniyan, Irula, Kattunaikan, and Adiyan are some of the major “communities” among Kerala tribals.[2]

A. K. Balan, Member of the Legislative Assembly from Tarur, is the current Kerala Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes.[3]

Source: Tribals in Kerala – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Date Visited: 11 December 2021

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Kocharethi the Arya Woman
by Narayan >>
Literature | Storytelling >>

The slow erosion of cultural identity, the absence of agency for some sections of society, the increasing erasure of various communities from the supposed democratic space of citizenship, the questionable route ‘modernity’ and ‘development’ take, and the effects they have on men and, differently, on women are all woven into Narayan’s novel. Kocharethi calls upon us to ethically engage with it, to question our complicity in the systemic conditions that produce these lives, to reflect on our own reactions to the tale, to our expectations of the form and genre and to unlearn our frames of understanding. | Learn more >>

“Tribal groups (adivasis) in India have often been excluded, marginalized and oppressed by ‘mainstream’ society. In many ways this exclusion, marginalization and oppression is fostered by the way in which ‘mainstream’ society looks at the adivasis – as exotic, dangerous, or ‘primitive’ others.” – Ganesh [G.N.] Devy in A Nomad Called Thief: Reflections on Adivasi Silence and Voice | Classifications in different states >>


  1. Adiyan
  2. Aranda (Arandan)
  3. Eravallan
  4. Hill Pulaya (Mala Pulayan, Kurumba Pulayan, Karavazhi Pulayan, Pamba Pulayan)
  5. Irular, Irulan
  6. Kadar (Wayanad Kadar)
  7. Kanikkaran, Kanikar
  8. Karimpalan
  9. Kattunayakan
  10. Kochuvelan
  11. Koraga
  12. Kudiya, Melakudi
  13. Kurichchan (Kurichiyan)
  14. Kurumans (Mullu Kuruman, Mulla Kuruman, Mala Kuruman)
  15. Kurumbas (Kurumbar, Kurumban)
  16. Mahamalasar
  17. Malai Arayan (Mala Arayan)
  18. Malai Pandaran
  19. Malai Vedan (Mala Vedan)
  20. Malakkuravan
  21. Malasar
  22. Malayan, Nattu Malayan, Konga Malayan (Excluding the areas comprising the Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad and Kozhikode Districts)
  23. Mavilan
  24. Malayarayar
  25. Mannan (to be spelt in Malayalam script in parenthisis)
  26. Muthuvan,Mudugar,Muduvan
  27. Palleyan, Palliyan, Paliyar, Palliya
  28. Paniyan
  29. Ulladan, Ullatan
  30. Uraly
  31. Mala Vettuvan (in Kasaragod and Kannur Districts)
  32. Ten Kurumban, Jenu Kurumban
  33. Thachenadan, Thachenadan, Moopan
  34. Cholanaickan
  35. Malapanickar
  36. Vettakuruman

Source: Kerala Public Service Commission, State Government of Kerala, India
Date Visited: 11 December 2021

See also

Adverse inclusion | Casteism | Rural poverty


Crafts and visual arts

Demographic Status of Scheduled Tribe Population of India (Census figures 2011)

Denotified Tribes, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes – Report and Recommendations (Technical Advisory Group)

Fact checking | Figures, census and other statistics

Human Rights Commission (posts) | (Government of India)

Imprisonment & rehabilitation

Search tips | Names of tribal communities, regions and states of India

State wise population of Scheduled Tribes (ST) and their percentage to the total population in the respective states and to the total STs population

“What are the Rights of Scheduled Tribes? – Government of India (National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, NCST)

“What is the Forest Rights Act about?” – Campaign for Survival and Dignity

“Who are Scheduled Tribes?” – Government of India (National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, NCST)

Up-to-date reports by Indian journalists and commentators

To search Indian periodicals, magazines, web portals and other sources safely, click here. To find an Indian PhD thesis on a particular tribal community, region and related issues, click here >>

Search tips

Combine the name of any particular state, language or region with that of any tribal (Adivasi) community.

Add keywords of special interest (health, nutrition endangered language, illegal mining, sacred grove); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the “Forest Rights Act” (FRA); and the United Nations “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “women’s rights”, or “children’s right to education”.

Specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, bonded labour and human trafficking, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, Himalayan tribe, hunter-gatherers in a particular region or state, prevention of rural poverty, water access).

For official figures include “scheduled tribe ST” along with a union state or region: e.g. “Chhattisgarh ST community”, “Scheduled tribe Tamil Nadu census”, “ST Kerala census”, “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group Jharkhand”, “PVTG Rajasthan”, “Adivasi ST Kerala”, “Adibasi ST West Bengal” etc.

In case the Google Custom Search window is not displayed here try the following: (1) toggle between “Reader” and regular viewing; (2) in your browser’s Security settings select “Enable JavaScript” | More tips >>

Uravu | Tribal education and customs in Wayanad >>
Photo © Ludwig Pesch
Wayanad song by Kanavu music group >>
See also

Biodiversity and development – Kerala

Childhood – Kerala | Childrens rights: UNICEF India | Safe search

Childrens rights: English or Malayalam (UNICEF India)

eBook | Background guide for education

Education and literacy | Right to education

eLearning | “National development and the development of tribal communities are linked to each other”: Droupadi Murmu – 15th President of India

Ethnobotany & ethnomedicine

Food distribution

Health and nutrition

Human development – Kerala

Kerala | State wise ST list (Scheduled Tribes)

Literature and bibliographies

Literature – fiction | Poetry


Recommendations by the Expert Committee on Tribal Health

Success stories

Tribal schools and educational projects – Kerala

Video – Kerala

Video | M.S. Swaminathan on Biodiversity and the sharing of resources

Video | Trailer to “Have you seen the arana?” – Kerala

Vulnerable tribal groups – Kerala


Women | Safe search | President Droupadi Murmu on women’s empowerment