The Nicobarese Tribes and Their Knowledge

  • Kavita Arora


The Nicobar archipelago is inhabited by two tribes the Nicobarese and the Shompens. This chapter discusses extensively about indigenous knowledge possessed by both of them. The former lives on 12 islands with a major concentration on Car Nicobar, while the latter inhabit the interior areas of Great Nicobar. The islands are mostly scattered and therefore, from the management point of view, are divided into three zones; the northern group has Car Nicobar, Teressa, and Chowra as the main inhabited islands. The Nancowry group has Nancowry, Kamorta, Katchal, and Trinket as the major centers of habitation. In the south, mainly the Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar, Kondul, and Pulo Milo are the inhabited islands. In the central group, Batti Malv and Tileangchong and in the southern group Meroe, Trak, Treis, Menchal, and Kabra islands are not inhabited. The Nicobarese are well aware of the modern amenities and also use them but still forest and its products are an integral part of their lifestyle. The Shompens are a “different type of Nicobarese,” an unknowable tribe inhabiting in the inside of the thick vegetation of Great Nicobar forest. Many traits of their life are still unversed. Nicobarese and Shompens both are Mongoloid, but the latest unpublished genetic research suggested that both tribes have different genesis. The Shompens live in nomadic bands of 25–30 people. According to the movements of bands and inter-band interactions, the Shompen area could be divided into four distinct regions/zones, viz., (i) northern covering Trinket Bay, Laful Bay, and Zhavu Nalla; (ii) northwestern covering the Dogmar and Alexandra river basins; (iii) southwestern covering the Kokeon, Koshintown, and Pulobha village regions; and (iv) central regions covering the uphill Galathia river basin and camps nearby the Shompen hut complex. They are mostly dependent upon forests for their survival.


Mongoloid Nomadic Dispersed Territorial affiliation Abundance Modern amenities Eco-culture entity Land tenure Horticulture Hunting Inbreeding Gift economy Rehabilitation Exogenous 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Kavita Arora
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DelhiShaheed Bhagat Singh CollegeDelhiIndia

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