Note : With
effect from 15th November 2000 after the new state Jharkand was formed,
most of the tribal areas mainly in the forest tracks of Chhotanagpur plateau
and Santhal paragana have been separated from the former state of Bihar
to Jharkand. The information given below is about these tribals who mostly
now belong to the state of Jharkand.
The Tribal population is divided into 30 different tribal groups. Representatives
of Negrito, Proto-Australoid, Mongoloid, Mediterranean and Nordic races
are found in the population of Bihar. Certain Negrito features were noticed
by anthropologists among the aborigines of the Rajmahal hills. The Proto-Australoid
features are found in the Kharwar Munda, Bhumij and Mal Pahariyas. Some
admixture of Mongoloid blood may be found among the Tharus of Champaran.
No clear picture of the origin and composition of these tribals
of Bihar has emerged.
Austric speaking groups include Munda, Santhal, Ho, Birhor,
Kharia and others. There is a considerable difference between the Mundas
and Oraons. The differences between the Santhals and the Sauria Pahariyas
are significant as they are indicative of the differences between the
Austric-speaking and the Dravidian-speaking people.
The chief representatives of the Dravidian races inhabiting
the tribal region are the Hos, the Santhals, the Oraons and the Mundas
and they together constitute almost four-fifths of the total tribal population
of the state. More than one half of the Santhals are found in Santhal
Parganas division and about a quarter in Hazaribagh and Singhbhum districts.
They are not negligible in Dhanbad, Purnia, Munger and Bhagalpur. Over
three-fourths of the Oraons are confined to Ranchi and Palamu. The Oraons
are also found in a few blocks in Rohtas and Champaran districts. Nearly
three fourths of the Mundas are found in Ranchi district and the bulk
of the balance in Singhbhum district. The Hos are virtually confined
to Singbhum. These four tribes have taken to settled cultivation as their
mode of life and are gradually getting the benefits of the employment
available in the mineral and industrial undertaking scattered over the
plateau region. A few tribals have yet to take to settled cultivation
or are still dependent largely on food gathered from the forest to sustain
themselves. Asur and Korwa communities are still very backward
and deserve assistance through special programmes. Birjhia is a community
akin to Asur. The Chick Baraik community engages itself in weaving cloth,
the Lohara and Karmali are both blacksmiths who make agricultural implements,
the Mahlis are mostly bamboo workers and blacksmiths, the Kisans are settled
cultivators noted for their industrious agricultural activities and the
Birjhias are settled cultivators and keep cattle. The largest chunk of
the tribal population still lives in the rural areas.