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Khoibu as a separate Tribe

Khoibu as a separate Tribe

Inside and Outside of Ethnic Enclosures: Khoibu as a Separate Tribe by G. Amarjit Sharma

Much of what we know today as tribe is not what earlier anthropologists understood as a particular type of society and a stage of social evolution. For tribe is no more an isolated, self-contained and primitive social formation. It is also increasingly difficult to define. The problem of a clear definition on tribe assumes a chronic form in South Asia, where tribes had co-existed with other types of social formation for centuries (Beteille 1998, 187). What we know as the scheduled tribe (ST) in India has not only been vaguely defined, but also avoids the issue of formal definition; it merely stands for a set of communities listed in an official schedule (Beteille 1998, 188). Beyond such official enumeration, tribe is both constituted by and constitutive of the social, political and geographical factors in a place. If one looks in Northeast India and broader Indo-Mayanmar areas, tribe gets defined during various encounters with valley society and polity; encounters had/have occurred both within the colonial and post-colonial states. F. K. Lehman (1963) argued that the social system in the Chin Hills in Mayanmar was moulded in response to the valley Burman.
In similar sense, tribes in Manipur have been shaped as a result of various encounters with valley society. For instance, tribe as a society moulded through rejection of any affinities with other social formation is seen in the ways Naga society has been constructing with respect to the valley Meitei society in Manipur (Sharma 2007). Hence, in hill areas of Northeast India, tribe has been evolved not merely as a stage of social formation or merely as a society intimately associated with other social formations, but largely as a response to other social and political formations in a geographical space called valley. Hills have become a label that represents the life-worlds of tribe. The response, further, led to fusion of tribes into generic ethnic identities. This process encloses one group of tribes from another, such as the Naga and Kuki/Kuki-Chin-Mizo tribes. Yet, tribes are porous and for many of the smaller tribes, articulating tribal identity both outside and inside such enclosures has been their survival strategy.
We focus broadly on the social analysis of relationships among and within tribes in hill areas of Manipur. Not all the tribes are listed in the state’s ST list and in our context official tribes refer to those tribes listed in the state’s list of ST. The state of Manipur has so far enumerated 33 scheduled tribes. But the study is a case of a ‘sub-tribe’ of an official tribe demanding the status of ST. We select the case of the Khoibus living in southeastern hill region of Manipur, who are included under the officially listed tribe named as the Maring. However, the Khoibus claim to be a separate tribe, which the larger sections of Maring tribe deny. However, what appears after close study is that this is not a situation strictly internal to a tribe, but the equation of powers among the ethnic enclosures in hill areas of the state also matters while deciding who should be recognised as tribe or ST. Even the state that has the authority to recognise tribes as schedule tribe is influenced by strong lobby of a powerful tribe who is against the recognition of certain groups as ST.
The case study of Khoibus is important because it is a case of negotiating a distinct tribal identity in between the ethnic enclosures in Manipur. It is argued that the enclosures of tribes around the generic ethnic identities like Naga have made cultural identity of Khoibus invisible. The study is also important in the sense that despite non-recognition of Khoibu as an official tribe, they live themselves as an independent tribe. The Khoibu, if one asks their identity, will not identify as Maring or part of Maring, but as Khoibu. We argue that Khoibu’s sense of tribe, though based on their discovery of social and cultural history and looks like an isolated social phenomenon, itself is the product of their response to official consideration of them as sub-group of Maring tribe, social imposition on them as part of Maring social structure and ethnic imposition to them as Naga. Social history is the product of such response.
While looking at this, the Khangshim Village has been identified as site of enquiry. In our context, this village is more than a mere social unit; rather it is the site of negotiation for surviving as independent tribe. The Khangshim Village is a peculiar case especially because the foothill in which it is located has increasingly become a non-significant space between the “hills” and “valley” around which the ethnic politics in the region are revolved. Perhaps, the case of Khoibus at the foothill area has given a different story as far the politics of identity in the region is concerned.
Invisibility of Khoibus
The Khoibus are settled in hills and foothills of the southeast Manipur. One of their settlement areas is the Khangshim Village at a foothill. The village is apparently separated from other settlement areas of the Marings. It is also a neighbouring village to a largely Meitei populated place called Kakching (a town in Thoubal District). Many of the Khoibus in the hills and foothill areas have been migrated to urban areas of Imphal, the capital of Manipur, for reasons ranging from education, jobs to other economic activities. Those villages in hills are known to them as the ancestral villages, where there is a communal ownership of land.
Their first migration within the state appears to be the foothill areas, where there are local markets such as Pallel and Kakching bazaars. They are dependent on these markets both to sell their own products (handloom products are popular) and to buy daily needs. Khoibus maintain regular relationship with their ancestral villages at the Khoibu Khunjao (Khullen) in the hills. It is apparent from interaction with the Khoibus that Khangshim village is more like a satellite village of the Khoibu Khunjao. Khangshim is one of such satellite villages. The relationship between ancestral and satellite villages is political, for every group of people desires to be rooted in their ancestral land and to prove as their indigeneity. They have been in the local news in recent times because of their assertion as a different tribe from their official parent tribe, Maring and violent reactions from the Marings who oppose the demand. The Khalling clan of Khoibus bought the land where Khangshim Village is located from the neighbouring Meiteis. The Khalling clan became and is still the head clan of the village as per their customarily laws.
The Khoibus are invisible (non-recognition of cultural identity) group of people amidst the ethnic enclosures. One does not find the name of Khoibu (as tribe) in unofficial listing of tribes. The unofficial list of tribes compiled by the United Naga Council Working Group (UNCWG) includes Maring as one of the constituent Naga tribes in Manipur and Nagaland. To the Khoibus compulsion to be recognised first as Maring and then as Naga is a paramount reality. This reality restricts the Khoibus from asserting their identity independently of the Naga nationalism. Largely, tribes in Manipur have been aggregated into major ethnic enclosures such as the Naga and Kuki/Kuki-Chin-Mizo. The collectivizing of tribes as either Naga or Kuki is something that the state (colonial and post-colonial states) and recently, ethnic civil society groups have engineered. Once the state engineered ethnic identity, it is the turn of the civil society that makes efforts to internalise that identity for different interests.
Prior to the listing of tribes into schedule tribes in 1956, the state classified tribes into “any Naga tribe”, “any Kuki tribe” and “any Lushai tribe”. This had led to consolidation of tribes into these categories, and counter-emergence of other tribal identities, especially of those who did not like the name Kuki (anti-Thadou tribes). Despite the beginning of official listing, tribes in daily life have been survived as ethnic groups: Naga and Kuki/Kuki-Chin-Mizo. The post-independence movement (particularly in 1970 and after) for integrating Nagas in North East India further solidified enclosures of tribes as the Naga tribes. Equally there have been the Kuki-Chin-Mizo tribes. The two groupings even had ethnic conflicts in 1990s. The Naga enclosure under its armed wing National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Issac-Muivah have imagined the “Naga inhabited hills districts” in Manipur, which shrinks the Kukis’ space for political maneuvers. However, against such seemingly naturalised ethnic boundaries, the description given to certain tribes as “culturally Kuki and politically Naga” is pretty confusing. Tribes like Anal, Moyons, Monsang, Marings etc. are considered as culturally “Old Kukis”, becoming “politically” Nagas in recent past. As a result, one needs to distinguish “cultural” and “political”. Robbin Burhling (quoted in Barauh 2010, 249) argues that Naga is a political project and it is not a linguistic label. There is no linguistic unity among so called Naga tribes. Further, he comments that some groups whose language a linguist would classify as “Kuki” have declared themselves as Nagas. This shows that even the culturally diverse groups could become part of political Naga. One thing is clear, the ethnic enclosures are political in the sense that diverse tribal social structures, local beliefs, languages, etc. hardly create problem in falling under broader identity. For such identity has been propelled by the invention of greater ethnic other.
Within this political Naga, the need for ethno-nationalism has been so overwhelmed that there has been cultural construction of unity above all linguistic barriers. The first “Convention of the Naga people of Manipur” was held at Mao on May 16, 1970. It was resolved in the Convention:
The Naga people aspiration to live together under a singular state has undoubtedly been motivated by a genuine patriotic urge. Moreover it is based on concrete and unchallenged facts such as that all the Naga inhabited areas in Manipur, Nagaland, NEFA and Assam are contiguous to each other and constitute a compact area, that the Nagas racially, socially, culturally and in all aspects of life are the same, that wherever they are and under whatever administrative set up they may come, the sense of oneness among them remain ever strong and that into Nagaland State will be fulfillment of the common political aspiration (Resolution of ‘The Naga People of Manipur’ cited in, Why not South Nagaland by the Forgotten Nagas (unpublished)).
The political Naga has used religion as an important instrument of transformation from culturally diverse tribes to a religious unit, “Nagaland for Christ”. To Richard Eaton (1997), the pace of Christian conversion among the Nagas after independence was faster than before. In a changing world of Nagas when they have felt the need for political support across villages and states in the cause of Naga nationalism, Christ became a “high God”. In the process, the Khoibu’s official parent tribe, Maring became largely the Christian Naga. Rajat Kanti Das (1985, 1990) remarked that Marings were motivated to call themselves as Naga more by the Church leaders than any other agency. Khoibus are learned to be largely Christians; though simultaneously old traditions still continue. And for them, Naga is a chosen political nomenclature. This choice, however, is one the smaller tribal groups are compelled to do, rather than a genuine decision.
For Khoibus, despite their historical fact of linkages genealogically to Haka, Falam, and Tedim Chins of Mayanmar, they appear unwilling to remember and emphasise these links. Influence of Naga nationalism has been the crucial determining factor. The areas where the Khoibus inhabit are geographically contiguous with the Tangkhul in northern side of the Chandel District (Ukhrul District of Manipur). This geographical affinity made easy to influence Khoibus, among other neighbouring tribes to become Nagas. The present author was told that they became Naga through the spread of Christianity by the Tangkhul pastors.
Limits of Social Landscape
The Maring, one of the scheduled tribes in Manipur has four major sub-groups: Khoibu, Saibu, Kholleiya and Dak Thlanga. Among these groups, the Khoibus are the first one who have been asserting as a separate tribe. The present author was told that next to them, it is the turn of Saibu to assert as a different tribe. Though the Khoibus are officially considered as a sub-group of Maring, they consider themselves as having separate oral history, social structure and identity; they desire their “social facts” of having distinctive history and society are sufficed for recognizing them as a schedule tribe under the constitution of India. In fact, the then (office of the) Dewan of Manipur State (before it was merged to India in 1949) in its letter (dated 6th June 1949) had recognised the Khoibu as an independent tribe. However, the Government of India, in its Amendment to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes List Modification Order) 1956, had dropped Khoibu from the list of scheduled tribes.
The Khoibus Union, which represents the voice of the Khoibus, feels that the sole reason for non-recognition of Khoibu as schedule tribe is because of the numerically larger fellow Marings, which has influenced the state government. The members of Khoibu Union (an organization established by Khoibus that works for their interests) contented that the State Assembly had passed resolution two times in favour of Khoibu as separate tribe. However, the state has not been able to move forwards for a constitutional inclusion of them as the schedule tribe. The numerical preponderance of fellow Marings has led to the political fact that Tengnoupal assembly constituency, which is their electoral constituency, has in most of the times elect a Maring candidate as Member of Legislative Assembly. Some Khoibus whom the present author met during fieldworks expressed helplessness of using electoral representation as a means for pushing forward their demand for inclusion as scheduled tribe because of less number in the state assembly constituency compared to their fellow Marings.
The so called Maring, from the perspective of the Khoibus, mostly are scattered in Machi and Tengnoupal blocks of Chandel District of Manipur. Other villages of the Maring are also found dwelling in Chandel town and Chakpikarong subdivision of the same district, and also in Senapati and Ukhrul districts of Manipur. The spatial enclosure between the Khoibus, settled at Khangshim village and their ancestral village, Khoibu Khullen in the interior hills, on the one hand and the Maring particularly in the Machi and Tengnoupal blocks, on the other, is a result of violent conflicts between the Maring and Khoibus, because of latter’s assertion as a separate tribe. A Khoibu resident at Khangshim village, whom the author encountered at the first entry to the village, spoke on how the Maring youths came and destroyed the village. The Marings, to him, regularly monitor the meanings and manners of organisation of their public activities, such as community festival or village meetings, etc. in the Khoibu village.
Before author’s fieldwork in Khoibu village started, many stories were heard from the neighbouring Meiteis as well about how they were subjected to furies of the Maring youths for asserting themselves as separate tribe. When asked the neighbouring people about the Khoibus, their understanding was that of the Khoibus who had been displaced from Maring settlement areas. One distinct feature of the local perception of Khoibus of this village is that there was a clear identification of the Khoibus as the “rebellious” group from “mother” tribe Maring. This local perception strengthens, though unconsciously, the construction of Khoibus as a rebellious internal other. Stories about Khoibus being tortured and victimised at the hands of the majority tribal neighbour marked the author’s first encounter.
Documenting Own History
A normal observer of the Khangshim village of about three thousand Khoibu residents, violently attacked by the so called Marings (to the Khoibus), may wonder as to how they preserve their history. A distinctive characteristic of the Khoibus is the documentation of their oral history in an inequal social order. Documenting one’s own history has a specific cause. History, here, is a mode of asserting identity of a minor tribal group. This task was engineered by the Khoibu Union. The Union has written a document named as Historical background of Khoibu Tribe for circulating among their people. The head office of the Union is located at the ancestral village (the Khoibu Khullen) and it has been considered among Khoibus as the representative body of their interests. Khoibus while asserting distinctive identity have evolved such a body as their agent to write their social history. There is a semantic shift in the assertion of Khoibu identity – the shift from the Maring-Khoibu tribe to Khoibu tribe and from a “sub-group” to an “independent tribe”. Khoibus feel their identity has been misunderstood. This is well manifested in the document written by the Khoibu Union:
Khoibu people are immediate neighbour to Maring people in terms of habitation. As such there is frequent social interaction between the two tribes. Religious fellowship, social activities like games and sports etc, are jointly organised. There are inter-marriages between the two tribes. However, the lingua franca between the two tribes is the Meiteilon (Manipuri). By this reason or the other the Khoibu people are often called Khoibu Maring (Italics added).
The Union has registered distinctiveness of the Khoibu as a tribe. It asserts, ‘Khoibu is a tribe having its own distinctive culture, custom, language, genealogy, origin myth, migration, settlement, and the socio-political and religious organization. Khoibu people have Christian Worship Hymnal and Bible written/translated in their own dialect.’ The Khoibu as a tribe is proven through their defined social characteristics. Such characteristics are defined in the above mentioned document as follows:
The Khoibu tribe bears some distinct characteristics such as head hunting, common dormitory for both male and female youth termed as Yakhang in the Khoibu dialect, socio-political system in the village level/village republic, a large quadrangular and hexagonal shield use in war or battlefield, settlement on the high lands, a crude form of agriculture practice for livelihood, every Khoibu village has a well-defined territory, population and independent internal and external policy exercised by the chief, assisted by the village council consisted of different clans, and common land ownership.
The Union traces genealogy of the Khoibus in myths which we
re believed to be the gifts of their ancestors. The English version of their myth of origin is given as follows:
Once we human beings were
Mangsawr ruled
Khayir bound
Mangsawr was the male
Khayir was the female
It was under the stone
It was beneath the earth
There, beneath the earth
There, under the stone
Neither was healthy
Nor was wealthy
To come onto the earth
To see the earth
There was gate of stones
Hard to open
Harder to open
The buffalo opened the hard gate
The buffalo opened the harder gate.
Despite the social fact of many tribes that they trace their origin from caves; the above origin myth signifies how the present Khoibu relates with the past. Khoibus do not relate with their past simply because there is or can be a past. A more serious reason is that they attempt to locate themselves within the “dislocated world” – dislocation for Khoibu could mean the unequal social condition that does not allow to name on their own terms, and establish an identity for them. The past is being invented through social history of migration. The origin of their migration is being traced in the Indo-Myanmar border. The English version of their migration myth is as follows:
Towards Mangrengphai we travelledAt Mangrengphai
Neither we were human
Nor were we fishes
For it was like a dream
It was called Mongrengphai
At Mongrengphai
Started learning to live
Learnt to prosper.
To their migration history, the Khoibus were said to have experienced their best and prosperous life under the reign of Mikhongpa in the Inthee Basin, Angoching Range and Yoomadung Hills, in the present Indo-Myanmar border. However, tragedy started when the Awa (the Burmese army) invaded their settlement areas. This led to their migration to settlement areas of the Marings. This in fact is telling how originally they were separated from the Maring and they became part of the Maring society by chance. But their memory of suffering at the hands of Burmese army has present relevance. A Khoibu resident at the Khangshim village had revealed that the Khoibus recall their memory of suffering under the Burmese armies because of the similar suffering at the hands of the Marings. It is their experience with the Maring that led the Khoibus to recall lives under the Burmese rule and how they migrated to the present settlement. In defining themselves as Khoibu, the Khoibus register the problematic side of the ways in which Maring tribe is representing them.
In this act of defining, there is an attempt to give a message that they stand at par with the rest as an independent tribe, not as a constituent member of the Maring tribe. It is claimed that they have all the basic characteristics to be called as a tribe. The characteristics like ‘head hunting, dormitory system, settlement on the high lands, village chief, village council, etc.’ are in fact in common with other tribes as well. However, they seek to cut off the continuity with the rest by asserting the difference or asserting ‘its own distinctive culture, custom, language, genealogy, history of origin, migration, settlement, socio-political and religious organization.’ Hence, the affinities with, and distinctiveness of the Khoibus from their neighbouring tribal communities are asserted simultaneously.
This context of Khoibus reminds a theory of the modern representational democracy that ‘subjects may have overthrowned the past and its spectres of ordained or divine hierarchy, but subjects only truly enter the present when they become self-representing. Further, in speaking for themselves, subjects move from a domain of exploitation, illusion and heteronomy to a spontaneous order of equal and self-determining individuals’ (Colebrook 2005, 5). But the problem with this formulation, in the context of the present study is that the Khoibu as a subject have not forgotten their past nor overthrown their past. Instead, Khoibu as a subject is very much determined by his or her own past and cultural practices. In this ways, Khoibu as an alienated self, if go by the above statement of the modern theory of representational democracy, is rescued by taking it as a constitutive part of the larger cultural context. The task of writing history by the Khoibus has been to define this cultural context. But the above theory of representation shares one important feature: entering the present reality as an equal subject and self-determining individuals. Again, the reality that Khoibu as a subject entered is a reality where he has to constantly negotiate for his culture and identity.
An interview with one of the respondents in the Khangshim village had revealed that they were not allowed to call as Khoibu. This respondent was severely beaten up for identifying as Khoibu when a group of Marings came to see him. Khoibu Union explains how the term Khoibu came to their lives and how they would like to be called:
As our forefathers have been handing down our accounts orally from generation to generation; we called ourselves Uipo. The term Khoi-pu is derived from the version of Khoi which means bee and Pu is derived from Akapu which means owner. Therefore, Khoibu means the people who own bee, beehives, and honey in the indigenous land of Khoibu territory…. Though we called ourselves Uipo, we officially represent as Khoibu to avoid any confusion of our identity.
That the Khoibu as a subject has to constantly negotiate his own history and identity is borne by the immediate reality where the Maring still claims that the Khoibu is the constituent part of it. The active role of agency that the Khoibu Union has played by writing Khoibu’s own history is also manifested in its ability to create crisis within the Maring society. A controversy was created within the Maring Student Union when the Khoibu represented as a separate unit to the Naga Student Union Delhi and submitted historical facts about the Khoibu to Naga Student Union Delhi and Naga Student Federation (NSF).
The convener of the Maring Marnorap Delhi argues: “That, it was absolutely a matter of surprise and disappointment to all the Maring people when some of our dear brothers and sisters claiming themselves as Khoibu Students, had raised, without any prior information to the authorities concerned, as an issue of affiliating themselves to NSUD (Naga Student Union Delhi) and as a separate Khoibu Unit apart from Maring Marnorap Delhi (MMD). If such demand is granted without prior consultation with the apex bodies of Maring viz. Maring Uparup Assembly (MUA), Maring Literature Society (MLS) and Maring Students’ Union (MSU), it would lead to the provocation of misunderstandings and social unrest amongst the Marings regarding the history of Maring identities–social, cultural, literature etc. …. On this account, the letters and historical facts about Khoibu submitted to NSUD and NSF, should be first and foremost referred and approved by the MUA, MLS and MSU” (the information is cited in the Souvenir of the Maring Student Union, 2004).
Now it can be read that there are two levels of negotiation: criticising the Maring identity as an imposed identity on the Khoibus; and the construction of Khoibu identity through its own written history. Yet the act of essentialising is similarly occurred in the case of Khoibus. They also emphasise the essence of being a Khoibu that the Khoibu has certain shared identity among them. However, the act of essentialising has different purposes for Maring and Khoibu. For the former, it wants to retain Khoibu as Maring tribe to resist any change in the dominant social order. But for the latter, it is an act of resisting this order.
Thus as far as Khoibu is concerned, it is worth mentioning that where a particular category of identity has been repressed, delegitimised or devalued in dominant discourses, a vital response may be to claim value for all those labeled by that category, thus implicitly invoking it in an essentialist way (Calhoun 1998, 17).
Nevertheless, the popular domain does not guarantee equal relationship among the ethnic groups. Interviews with the Khoibu residents revealed that the decision of the Khoibus to seek affiliation/belongingness to the larger Naga identity or seek cultural affinity with the neighbouring tribes is not measured by how much it shares with others in terms of cultural belief systems. Rather, it is decided by how much it can be secured by being in some relationships. This is supported by the perspective of ethnic group as organizational type, given by Fredrik Barth. Barth says that there is no simple one to one relationship between ethnic units and cultural similarities and differences. The features that are taken into account are not the sum of objective differences, (or similarities), but only those which the actors themselves regards as significant. Hence, the basic orientation of any group is determined by the social effectiveness of those orientations (Barth 1969). The emphasis or reinforcement on cultural similarities is only the result of that strategy to give security to its own people. The possibility of having good relationship with the Meiteis is, however, dampened by the divide between the tribe and non-tribes. Such divide continues even after efforts of the Meitei civil-society organizations to bridge the gap between the hills tribes and valley non-tribal population. Khoibus might have problems with the Maring tribe or other bigger tribes, but they feel that in the existing politics of the region their security lies in affiliating culturally and politically with a larger tribe.
The myth of cave origin, and its (myth) inclusion in the history writing of the Khoibus has in fact served this purpose. The Khoibus feel that they are culturally close to the neighbouring tribes like Anal, Mayon, Monsang and Lamkang who also have the myths of cave origin. For instance, Anals have the myth of cave origin. Anals’ ancestors were believed to emerge from Khul or cave. The ancestors were Hanshu and Hantha. It is said that a tiger killed anyone who came out of this cave. Later the ancestors befriended a bird that they promised free feeding in the fields in return for their helps. The birds divert the attention of the tiger. In the mean time, they escaped from the cave. The myths of cave origin also found among the neighboring tribes like Mayon and Monsang (Kabui 1985; Directorate for Development of Tribals and Backward Classes 1981).
What is intended to derive from this reference is that by making myth as a part of social history, the Khoibus make a strategy to ascertain cultural affinities with the rest of neighbouring tribes, yet they do not fail to emphasise their distinct identity. It can be further interpreted that though Khoibus need separate identity, ultimately the security of the smaller tribes lays in its affinity with the other neighbouring tribes or bigger tribes. This affinity is established through a skillfully worked out cultural similarities with the other tribes. It is in this project that the myth of cave origin serves a useful purpose. Fieldwork in the Khoibu village revealed that despite the fact that Khoibu shares cultural similarities with the Meiteis, the Khoibus still feel the needs for belongingness to larger Naga identity. But sometimes these needs are not out of one’s choice rather by compulsion. But it should be mentioned that not all cultural elements are emphasised in these similarities. They also feel urgent to emphasise the distinctive identity of the Khoibus. Fredrik Barth argues that cultural difference could still persist despite inter-ethnic contact and interdependence (See Barth 1969).
The present study suggests that the assertion of the Khoibu identity from the Maring tribe is not merely a case of conflict between the two. The case study of history writing by the Khoibus is not merely a case of constructing identity through history. Exploring history writing by the Khoibu Union is a case of how the Khoibus articulate their identity vis-à-vis other larger ethnic communities. The case of Khoibus and their struggle to assert identity as a tribe is important because on different occasions they feel that in the existing politics of region their security lies in affiliating culturally and politically with larger identity such as Naga. Yet, they also feel the need to assert their cultural distinctiveness from the dominating Naga’s concept of community. The case study of Khoibu is not only to show how a marginal community is disempowered, but more important is how such community negotiates with the dominant ethnic identities.

One Response to “Inside and Outside of Ethnic Enclosures: Khoibu as a Separate Tribe by G. Amarjit Sharma”

  1. Khuman
    I appreciate the work undertaken by Mr. G Amarjit Sharma regarding Inside and Outside of Ethnic Enclosures. As he has pointed out, it is difficult to define tribe. Even people residing in the valley are also identified as tribe. So, in this context using the word “hao” will be more appropriate here and let us forget everything what outsiders are saying or writing about the tribe.
    Preparing Ph.D Thesis at JNU, Delhi by doing fieldwork only at the satellite village, Khangshim would make his thesis as satellite thesis. Teaching at Nambol L Sanoi College and writing such one-sided thesis has belittled your position as a lecturer.
    First of all, do you confirm that khoibus were living themselves as an independent tribe? What do you mean by independent tribe? If one ask any khoibus, they will say they are Marings. You can confirm from their ST certificates etc.
    You are working your thesis only from handful anti-Marings from Khangshim Village. Don’t you dare to visit other villages like Nungourok, Machi, Langol, Khunbi etc. to ascertain the facts?
    Machi is separated from Khunbi in the same way as Khangshim is separated from others. If not then how are you going to call them villages? The Khangshim land itself had been given by Minou-Laiching Maring Village. It is also a neighbouring village to Minou, Laiching etc. And they maintain regular relationship with not only Khoibu khunjao, but also with other Maring villages.
    Do you ever try to find out when was Khangshim established? If Khangshim people desires to be rooted to their ancestral land Khoibu khunjao to prove as their indigeneity, the name khoibu might derive from this khoibu khnujao. If this is true then khoibu is a name of a village not a tribe.
    How do you define “culturally old kukis”? Was it coined by you borrowed from other one-sided writers? Do more homework on this by visiting more villages. From my fieldwork they are totally different from kukis culturally, socially, historically, traditionally.
    As you said, Marings have four major sub-groups: Khoibu, Saibu, Kholleiya and Daklhanga, Khoibus are also one of the major shareholders of Maring tribe. Some Khoibus consider themselves as having separate ORAL history, social structure and identity, but Marings as a whole has a written history. It is clearly written that khoibu is the name of a Maring village. Did you know why the name khoibu was dropped from the list of ST? It might be because one village called khoibu cannot claim as a tribe.
    Why you have done your fieldworks confined only at Khangshim? Did you confirm the number of khoibu residents at Khangshim village as about three thousand? Have a recheck, please. What about those pro-Maring residents of Khangshim village? So far as my knowledge is concern, the Marings do not have official lingua-franca. So, it is natural they converse in Meiteilon. If khoibus have their own distinctive culture, custom, language, settlement, did you ever try to find out those and compare it with the rest of Marings? My personal observation concludes that they have same cultural dress, cultural dance, similar clan name, similar physique, social life, origin and settlement. Apart from some minor differences (from village to village) they share the same platform. They share the same characteristics like “head hunting, dormitory system, settlement on high lands, village chief, village council etc”.
    How do you claim that khoibus have been suffering at the hands of the Marings? All important organizational leaderships were held by the people from khoibu village only. You can verify from the profile published by Maring Uparup Assembly (MUA). In fact Marings are suffering at the hands of the pro-khoibus. To get the facts more clearer, I would suggest you to visit one blog which I come across : .
    Your fieldworks are mostly based on the profile written by the Khoibu Tribe Union (KTU) (which was outrightly rejected by the Marings).
    A good scholar should study both side of the coin to make the thesis more relevant. It should never be a one-sided thesis. Your Ethnic Enclosures should not exclude other ethnic constituents.
    The writer is a student at Pallel. He may be contacted at

Neiyei sunkni hei mayekhoupilo

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