There are about 20 Major tribes with a number of Sub-Tribes in
|Adi | Apatani | Bugun | Galo | Hrusso | Jingpho | Khamba | Koro | Memba |Meyor ||
|Mishmi (including Idu, Taroan and Kaman) | Monpa | Nyishi (including Bangru and Puroik) ||
|Sajolang | Sartang | Sherdukpen | Tagin | Tai Khamti (including Khamyang) | Yobin ||
|Tangshang (including Muklom, Lonchang, Tutsa,Tikhak, Hawoi, Longri, Mungrey, Mushaung, Lungphi, Joglai, Ngaimong, Ponthai, Khalak, Lungkhai, Halley, Chellim, Shechu, Shiangwal, Rera, Shiangtee, Dohe, Moitai, Hatseng, Gajee, Gaja, Kochong, Lowchang, Laki, Gallon, Chamchang, ringkhu, Shohra, Bowngtai, Ronrang of Changlang District and Nocte, Wanchoo and Tutsa of Tirap District)|
Here is a brief description some of these tribes :
The Adis have two main divisions, (the Bogum and Bomis) and under each there are a number of sub-tribes. The Minyongs, Karkos, Shimongs, Bomdo, Janbos, Paggis, Pailibos, Bogum, Padams, Milangs and so on from one group ; while the Gallong and seven other groups constitute another group of Adis. The Adis by nature are democratic and organised village council called Kebang. Their traditional dance called Ponung is famous in the whole of Arunachal Pradesh. Dances are very popular among them. Adi villages are situated generally on the spurs of hills. Polyandy is unknown but polygyny is practised. Adi women are very good weavers and weave cloth with highly artistic designs.<More details>
The Apatanis are settled agriculturists inhabiting the valley around Ziro-the headquarters of Lower Subansiri district. The older men-folk tie the hair in top-knots and tattoo the faces. Wearing of circular nose plugs and tattooing of faces is the most characteristic aspect of ornamentation of older Apatani women. However, new generation of Apatani men and women have stopped this practice of tying hair knot, nose plugs and face tattooing since early 1970s. The Apatani are good cultivators and practice both wet and terrace cultivation. Paddy cum fish culture is very popular among them. Unlike other tribes of Arunachal their economy is stable.
The Buguns or Khowas are gentle, hospitable and affectionate people. They are agriculturist and perform a number of rites and ceremonies for their welfare.
The Hrusso or Akas have a custom of painting their face with black marks. They figured frequently in old historical records. Their popular belief is that they were related with the Ahom Kings.They are keen traders and trade, mainly in cloth, blankets, swords etc. They have come to some extent under both Hindu and Buddhist influence.
The Singphos represent a section of the Kachin tribe of Burma. They live on the banks of Tengapani and Noa Dehang rivers. They are agriculturists and expert blacksmiths. The ladies are good weavers too. They follow Buddhism but at the same time believe in a host of spirit.
Khambas and Membas inhabiting northern part of West Siang are Buddhist by religion. Polyandry is prevalent among them. But it is more in vogue among the Membas. Agricultural activities are popular among them . Millet and Maize are their staple food . They grow cotton and barle also.
Mishmis form the bulk of the population of Lohit, Upper Dibang Valley and Lower Dibang Valley districts. There are also the Khamtis, the Singphos and a few Adi settlement. The Mishmis are divided into three main groups namely- Idus or Chulikatas, Digarus or Taroan and Mijus or Kaman. A section of the Idu Mishmi are also called Bebejia Mishmi . Their women are expert weavers and make excellent coats and blouses. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. By nature they are traders. Since very early days the Mishmis had relations with the plains of Assam. The chief items of trade are deer musk, wild medicinal plants, animal skins , Mishimi tita etc.
The Monpas are simple, gentle and courteous people. They are friendly and possess a rich heritage of culture. They dress well in artistically designed clothes. Their communal life is rich and happy. They follow Buddhism and profess Mahayana Buddhism which centre round the Tawang Monastery. Each house has a small chapel attached to it.
The Nyishi are the largest groups of people inhabiting the major part of Lower Subansiri district. Their menfolk wear their hair long and tie it in a knot just above the forehead. They wear cane bands around the waist. They believe that after death the spirit of a dead travels to the 'village of the ancestors'. The Sulungs or Puroik are considered to be one of the oldest of the tribes in the area. Their dress and constumes are simple, and the religion is a form of the primitive ' spirit culture'. <More Details>
The Sherdukpens are a small tribe. They are good agriculturist but their main interest is trade. Their religion is an interesting blend of Mahayana Buddhism and tribal magico-religious beliefs.
The Tagins are main inhabitant of Upper Sunansiri district. Their main occupation is agriculture. Polygamy is customary among them. Their dress is very simple consisting of only one piece of cloth.
The Khamtis are believed to have migrated from the Shan states of Burma . They are the only tribe in Arunachal who have a script of their own, They are Buddhist ( Hinayana cult) by religion, and bury the dead in a coffin. They include Khamyang tribe.
The Wanchos inhabit the western part of Tirap district, bordering Nagaland. They are a carefree, cheerful and hard-working people. Head hunting was customary with them in the old days. It was connected with many of the social activities of the tribe. Their society is divided into four classes the Wanghams ( chiefs ) , the Wangpana , the Wangaue and Wangaas . They have a strict sense of discipline and the law and order of the society is maintained by a village council. The entire tribe is divided into about forty confederacies of villages. Tattooing is a social custom among them . They believe in the existence of two powerful deities, Rang and Baurang. The women are good weavers but the art is restricted to the members of the chiefs families only. They are expert in wood carving also.
The Noctes inhabit the central part of Tirap to the east of the Wanchos. They are organized under powerful chief-those of Namsang and Borduria,They profess Vaishnavism and are disciple of the Bareghar Satra of Nazira, Assam, Naga Narottam who was a close friend of Shri Ram Dev Ata, the founder- satradhikar of the Brehar satra, , become his first disciple, Noctes are famous as salt producers which is their chief item of trade and barter. They are agriculturists. They also cultivate betel leaves on a commercial scale.
The Yobin, also called Lisus , are a small group of people inhabiting the remote easternmost corner of the Tirap district. They are simple and gentle people having their own culture , religion, faith and beliefs and dialect.