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

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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

For a list of websites included in a single search, click here. 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 >>

Learn more

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

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