Tribes of Uttarakhand represent the ethnic groups residing in the state. Every district of Uttarakhand has more or less a moderate percentage of tribal population. In the state of Uttarakhand, the main concentration of tribal population is in the rural areas. As per records, around 94.50 percent of total tribal population resides in rural areas and the remaining percentage of tribal population lives in urban centers. It is said that officially Uttarakhand is the home of around 5 tribes.
Historical records suggest that the tribes of Uttarakhand are earliest settlers of this region of North India. In the past, their main concentrations were confined to remote hilly and forested areas. The tribes of Uttarakhand have retained their age old traditional ways of living. They represent the distinctive culture and traits of a primitive life. Their traditional norms and socio-cultural practices determine their ethnicity. They are mostly dependent on agriculture and handicrafts.
Jaunsari Tribe of Uttarakhand: Jaunsari tribe is the largest tribal group of Uttarakhand. The entire population of the state is scattered throughout the state with over 356 villages. This group has a characteristic style of dressing and exclusive cultural observances. The Jaunsari group is identified to be one of the rare polyandrous societies in the world.
Tharu Tribe of Uttarakhand: Second largest tribal group of the state is the Tharu tribe. The Tharu are tribals from the eastern region of Terai. They trace their ancestry to the original migrant Tibetan tribes. The Tharus live in large families under one-roof like joint families. A distinctive characteristic of the Tharu culture is that their society has a Matriarchal nature.
Bhotia Tribe of Uttarakhand: The Bhotias conventionally live in the high altitudes of the Himalayas and are separated into many sub-groups, specifically the Jadh, the Marcha and the Shaukas. These three groups have diverse cultures but they have a common Tibetan-Mongoloid like physical appearance. They are mostly found in Almora district, Chamoli district, Pithoragarh district and Uttarkashi district of the state. That are scattered over 291 villages.
Buksa Tribe of Uttarakhand: Next prominent tribal group of Uttarakhand is Buksa tribe. Buksa are the residents of the Terai district of Uttarakhand and they assert their lineage from the Rajputs. The culture of the Buksa reflects a typical Hindu society but they also accept the existence of nature spirits and eat meat. They are spread over 173 villages of mainly Nainital and Dehradun districts. However, the main concentration of the Buksa tribe is found in Gadarpur, Ramnagar, Bajpur and Kashipur regions.
Raji Tribe of Uttarakhand: Lastly, Raji tribe is the smallest tribal group of Uttarakhand. Raji are known as Vanrawats and they dwell in the forests around Ascot in southern Pithoragarh. The Rajis also boast of a Matriarchal culture with women as the head of their society.
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