People of Assam
Peoples populating Assam
Total population
31,169,272 (2011)[1]
Regions with significant populations
See Languages of Assam
Majority Hinduism Minorities include Traditional, Panentheistic IslamChristianity

The People of Assam inhabit a multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-religious society. They speak languages that belong to four main language groups: Tibeto-Burman, Indo-Aryan, Tai-Kadai, and Austroasiatic. The large number of ethnic and linguistic groups, the population composition, and the peopling process in the state has led to it being called an "India in miniature".[2]

The peopling of Assam was understood in terms of racial types based on physical features, types that were drawn by colonial administrator Risley. These classifications are now considered to have little validity, and they yield inconsistent results; the current understanding is based on ethnolinguistic groups[3] and in consonance with genetic studies.

Peopling of Assam

Geographically Assam, in the middle of Northeast India, contains fertile river valleys surrounded and interspersed by mountains and hills. It is accessible from Tibet in the north (via Bum La, Se La, Tunga), across the Patkai in the Southeast (via Diphu, Kumjawng, Hpungan, Chaukam, Pangsau, More-Tamu) and from Burma across the Arakan Yoma (via An, Taungup). These passes have been gateways for migration routes from Tibet, Southeastern China and Myanmar. In the west both the Brahmaputra valley and the Barak valley open widely to the Gangetic plains.[4] Assam has been populated via all these accessible points in the past. It has been estimated that there were eleven major waves and streams of ethnolinguistic migrations across these points over time.[5] In recent years, a multidisciplinary approach using archaeological, historical linguistic and genetic data has been used to reconstruct population history.[6]

There is no evidence in Assam and Northeast India of early hominid dispersal.[7] The presence of a Paleolithic culture is contested.[8] An early report of the presence of Dravidian is also not supported.[9] The earliest culture in Assam is Neolithic; there is no evidence of Chalcolithic culture either in the Brahmaputra valley or in the surrounding hills;[10] and state formation began only from middle of 1st millennium CE.[11]


Taher (1993) identifies eleven waves and streams of immigration.[5] Recent scholarship identifies additional immigration of other Indian groups in the post Independence period with significant demographic, political and social impact.[12] The first three waves/streams immigrated in prehistoric times and are estimates: the Austroasiatic estimate is the expected period from genetic studies;[13][14] the Tibeto-Burman is the lower limit from linguistic and other estimates;[15] and the Indo-Aryan is the upper limit from paleographic estimates.[16] The rest of the immigration took place in the medieval, and Colonial and post-Colonial times in Assam.

The archaeological sites of Sarutaru in Kamrup and Daojali Hading in Dima Hasao district display neolithic cultures.[17] Some other Neolithic sites in Northeast include those in Arunachal Pradesh, Sadiya, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Naga Hills, Karbi Anglong,‌ Kamrup, Garo and Khasi hills of Meghalaya, etc. The neolithic culture discovered in Assam has East and Southeast Asian affinities of the Hoabinhian tradition.[18]

It had been suggested by linguists and ethnologists more than a hundred years ago that Austroasiatic speakers preceded Tibeto-Burman speakers[19]—and the latest findings from genetic and linguistic studies support the early claim and suggest mechanisms how a section of the Austroasiatic speakers had shifted to Tibeto-Burman.[20]


The earliest inhabitants of Assam are estimated to be late neolithic Austroasiatic peoples who came from Southeast Asia.[21] Genetic studies on O2a1‐M95 Y-chromosomal haplogroup, which has been associated with Austroasiatic speakers in India,[13] show that the expansion of this haplogroup in northeast India occurred more than five thousand years ago.[14] Some linguistic models indicate that the Austroasiatic peoples likely reached the region bringing with it an aquatic culture.[22][23] Historians too have noted that dry rice cultivation reached Assam from Southeast Asia.[24] Though some authors have suggested that the Brahmaputra valley may have been a center of dispersal of the Austroasiatic languages,[25] this has been refuted by others.[26]

They are expected to have settled in the foothills bordering the Brahmaputra valley, to be either absorbed or pushed to the hills by subsequent migrants.[27] The Austroasiatic remnant today are represented by the Khasi and Pnar peoples in neighbouring Meghalaya; and who are also present in Assam's Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts that adjoin Meghalaya,[28][29] and who have traditions placing them in the Brahmaputra valley.[30] It is significant that in the context of the discontinuity in mtDNA in south asian and southeast asian populations the Khasi people have an equal admixture (40% S Asian and 39% SE Asian) of south/east asian mtDNA as opposed to the Munda peoples (the Austroasiatic speakers in eastern India) who have predominantly south Asian mtDNA (75% S Asian and 0% SE Asian).[31]

Jaquesson (2017) suggests that the Garo, Rabha, and some Koch peoples carry linguistic and social traces of past Austroasiatic peoples.[32][33]


The second group of people to reach Assam are considered to be speakers of Tibeto-Burman languages.[34][35] The first Tibeto-Burman speakers started coming into Assam some time before three thousand years ago from the north and the east.[15][36] And they have continued coming into Assam till the present times.[34] It is indicated that this population could be associated with the O-M134 y-chromosome haplogroup.[37] There is widespread agreement among linguists and ethnographers that the Tibeto-Burmans migrated into an already settled region,[38][19][35] which is consistent with genetics studies.[39] They are today represented by the Bodo-Kacharis, the Karbi and the Mising; the Monpas and Sherdukpens; and Naga peoples.[40] Over time, two distinct Tibeto-Burman linguistic regions emerged in northeast India—(1) highlands surrounding the Brahmaputra valley that is predominantly Tibeto-Burman with great diversity,[41] and (2) plains where there are fewer but fairly homogenised Tibeto-Burman languages spread over a much larger area and in contact with Indo-Aryan and other language families.[42]

DeLancey (2012) suggests that the Boro-Garo languages, the most widespread group of Tibeto-Burman languages in the plains, have a comparatively transparent grammar and an innovative morphology[43] which indicates that proto-Boro-Garo must have emerged from a creolised lingua franca which is comparable to the case of Nagamese,[44] during a time when it was being used by non-native speakers.[45][46] A section of these Tibeto-Burman speakers could have been native Austroasiatic speakers, as suggested by some genetic studies on present-day Tibeto-Burman peoples of northeast India.[47] It is expected that the Tibeto-Burman peoples were not as numerous as the indigenous Austroasiatic population, and the replacement was of languages and not peoples.[48] The arrival of the Indo-Aryans and the expansion of the Kamarupa kingdom over the entire Brahmaputra valley created the conditions for the creolisation and development of proto-Boro-Garo lingua franca.[49]

Medieval historical sources suggest that the Bodo-Kacharis were adept at gravitational irrigation,[50] and though they were immersed in ahu rice culture some of them raised a wet rice called kharma ahu that was irrigated but not necessarily transplanted.[51] These irrigation systems continued to be used by Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman groups in modern times.[52] In this context, it is significant that most river names in Assam such as Dibang, Dihang, Doyang, start with Di-, (water in Tibeto-Burman)[53] and end in -ong (water in Austric languages).[54]

Eye witness accounts of the Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman peoples come from the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st century CE) and Ptolemy's Geography (2nd century CE) that call the land Kirrhadia after the Indo-Aryan name for the non-Indo-Aryan Kirata people who were the source of Malabathrum, so priced in the classical world.[55]


The Indo-Aryan migration to Assam that began in the first millennium BCE is the third stream.[56] Based on paleographic evidence Indo-Aryans spread into Assam early[57] but it cannot be pushed beyond the 5th century BCE.[16] The early Indo-Aryans were cultivators who brought with them the technology of wet rice (sali) cultivation, the plough, and cattle.[58] The earliest direct epigraphic evidence of Indo-Aryans in Assam comes from the 5th-century CE Umachal and Nagajari-Khanikargaon rock inscriptions, written in the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit language.[citation needed] When Indo-Aryan speakers entered the Brahmaputra valley, Austroasiatic languages had not yet been entirely replaced by the Tibeto-Burman languages, since an Austroasiatic substratum in the later-day Assamese language that emerged from the earlier Indo-Aryan vernacular indicates that Austroasiatic languages were present at least till the 4th- and 5th centuries CE.[59]

The presence of Indo-Aryans in the Brahmaputra valley triggered its historical period with the establishment of the Kamarupa kingdom.[60] The kings of this kingdom were originally non-Indo-Aryan who were sanskritised,[61] and who encouraged immigration and settlements of Indo-Aryans as landlords of already settled cultivators. The land grants were written in Sanskrit, but the presence of Austroasiatic, Tibeto-Burman and vernacular Indo-Aryan words and formations in these grants indicated the presence of these languages.[62] In the period when Indo-Aryan settlements were being created, Kamarupa likely constituted urban centers along the Brahmaputra river in which a precursor of the Assamese language was spoken with Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman communities everywhere else.[63] Some of these centers were in Goalpara, Guwahati, Tezpur, Nagaon and Doyang-Dhansiri regions, where sanskritisation of the non-Indo-Aryan communities occurred.[64] Sanskritisation was a process that occurred simultaneously with "deshification" (or localisation) of the Indo-Aryan communities in Assam.[65]


Muslim soldier-professionals

The fourth stream of new arrivals were Muslim personnel of the army of Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khalji left back after his disastrous Tibet expeditions.[66] Subsequently called Goria (from Gaur), they married local women, adopted local customs, but maintained their religion. This army was able to convert a Mech chief, called Ali Mech, which was the beginning of a limited number of local people who converted to the Islamic faith—later converts from the Koch, Mech and other ethnic groups came to be called Desi. In the 16th century yet another army from Bengal had to leave behind their soldiers—they too married local women and came to be called Moria. These populations were joined by religious preceptors, the most famous of who was Azan Faqir, a sufi saint. The descendants of Azan Faqir are known as Sayed in Assam.

Tai farmer-soldiers

The fifth wave of immigrants were Tai Shan People, who entered Assam under the leadership of Sukaphaa from Hukawng Valley in Myanmar[67] via Pangsau Pass in 1228 and settled between Buridihing and Dikhou rivers.[68] Ahoms, as they came to be called, were primarily responsible for surface levelling the extensive undulating plains of eastern Assam, extending the human base of sali wet-rice culture to the peoples they encountered in the region,[69] and for establishing the Ahom kingdom. They assimilated some of the Naga, Moran, Borahi, Chutiya and Dimasa peoples in a process of Ahomisation till they themselves began to be Hinduized from the mid-16th century onwards.[70]

Tai Buddhists and Sikhs

The sixth stream of peoples between the 17th and 19th centuries, were Tai; but unlike the Ahoms who were animists when they arrived, the later-day Tais were Buddhists.[71] Called Khamti, Khamyang, Aiton, Tai Phake and Turung peoples, they came from Upper Burma at different times, and settled is small groups in Upper Assam.[72] This continued well into the colonial times. At the end of the Medieval period, a small contingent of Sikhs soldiers sent by Ranjit Singh arrived in Assam to participate in the Battle of Hadirachokey—the survivors settled in a few villages in Nagaon district, married into local communities and formed a distinct Assamese-Sikh community.[73]


Kuki-Chin ethnic groups

The seventh wave of people into Assam occurred soon after the beginning the colonial period in Assam after the First Anglo-Burmese War and the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826—the political instability led to the immigration of Kachin and Kuki people from Upper Burma into Assam across the Patkai and Arakan Yoma. They constitute the Singphos in Upper Assam, and the Kuki-Chin tribes in Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao and Barak Valley.[74]

Tea Garden labourers

Main article: Tea-garden community of Assam

Following the establishment of the tea industry in Assam, and after the companies failed in harnessing the labour of the local Kachari, people from the Chotanagpur area of Bihar, northern and western Orissa, eastern Madhya Pradesh, and northern Andhra Pradesh belonging to Munda, Ho, Santal, Savara, Oraon, Gond and other ethnic groups were recruited for labour in the newly emerging tea estates.[75] Individual tea planters began bringing in labour starting in 1841, and collectively after 1859 many of them forcibly, in inhuman conditions, to serve as indentured labourers. Even after the practice of recruiting from outside was banned in 1926 recruitment continued till 1960 when labour available in the tea estates became a surplus.[76] This group of immigrants originally spoke many languages belonging to Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Austroasiatic languages and many have adopted Assamese language and ways.[77]

Colonial Indo-Aryan

British colonialism opened the borders of Assam, hitherto controlled tightly by the Ahom and Dimasa kingdoms, and established a new order[78] causing a significant influx from Bengal, Rajasthan, North India and Nepal.[79] Bengali Hindus filled most of the colonial administrative positions open to "natives"; and monopolised positions that colonialism opened up such as modern professional positions in the medical, legal, and teaching areas and middle-class positions in the railways and post-office.[80] The Hindu Bengali became the model of social change in the 19th century—westernisation as well as sanskritisation became stronger with impacts on dress, hair-do, manners, culinary arts, and other forms of culture; the caste system, which was not too rigid earlier, became more rigid; sastric rituals presided over by brahmins became more common; etc.[81]

Colonialism also germinated different industries and instituted a market economy in place of the corvee-labour-based non-monetized economy of the kingdoms it replaced. The opportunities for traders were filled mostly by Marwari traders (locally called keya) from Rajasthan, though there were Sindhis, Punjabi Sikhs and others in small numbers with no competition from the local population.[82] In the 19th century the peasant economy was completely in their grip and Marwari traders also participated as bankers and commercial agents of the nascent Assam Tea industry. Though in numbers they were a small group the entire trade of the Assam valley by 1906 was the monopoly of this highly visible population.[83]

The British East India Company began recruiting Gorkha soldiers after the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–1816); settlement of Gorkha retirees and their families in the then depopulated areas (following Moamoria rebellion and Burmese occupation) began in the 1830s[84]—and from a few thousand in 1879 their population increased to more than twenty one thousand in 1901 in the Brahmaputra valley.[85] In the first two decades of the 20th century the colonial government encouraged Newar and other ethnic non-Bahun Nepali communities to settle in Assam's excluded areas mostly as "professional" cattle grazers for an expanding revenue,[86] feeding into the business of milk supply in the emerging urban markets. This population of Assam was joined by Gorkha security personnel from forces such as the Assam Rifles that stayed back after their retirement. This population became predominant in the lower hills.[87]

Muslim cultivators

Muslim landless cultivators from Mymensingh in present-day Bangladesh, encouraged by the landlords of Goalpara and the British administration, began arriving in the late 19th century seeking land.[88] The initial trickle showed dramatic increases in each succeeding decade after 1901—by 1911, the Mymensingh cultivators were joined by lesser numbers from Pabna, Bogra and Rangpur who settled in the Char lands of Goalpara and some beyond;[89] by 1921 the immigrants were settled up to the central districts of Assam, mostly along the Brahmaputra though many had ventured further away, with some close to the Bhutan border;[90] and by 1931 the increases have been so dramatic that even British officers began talking about demographic shifts.[91] This group came to be called Miya and a large section of them had accepted the Assamese language as their mother tongue.[92]


Hindus from East Pakistan

The Partition of India triggered an exodus of Bengali Hindu people mostly from Sylhet Division in East Pakistan to Assam, numbering between 700 and 800 thousands. This wave continued till the 1970s and then slowed down. Unlike the Muslim cultivator who came from Mymensingh and from the west seeking land, this group came in from the south and settled mostly around towns, service centers and railway stations.[93]

Other Indian groups

Immigration of North Indian groups, especially from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in the post-Independence period was particularly strong. Collectively called desuwali (a local corruption of deshwali referring to their homeland or desh), they came from marginal socioeconomic backgrounds and came as construction workers, handcart-pullers, rickshaw pullers, cobblers, barbers and eventually settled in Assam, usually in interior fallow lands—and many of them found reasonable successes in trade and commerce and have become politically assertive. Other smaller groups include immigrants from Punjab who participated in trade and commerce; and people from Kerala who participated in education, and para-medical services (such as nursing).[12]

Ethnic groups

Assam is acknowledged as a settling land for many different cultures. Tribal groupings migrated to the soils of Assam from diverse directions, as the territory was linked to a number of states and many different countries throughout history. Austro-Asiatics, Tibeto-Burmans, and Indo-Aryans are historically the most important and oldest traditional groups to have arrived in Assam, and to this day, they remain essential elements of the "Assamese Diaspora". The greater Bodo-Kachari group forms a major part of Assam, encompassing 19 major tribes of both the plains and hills.[citation needed]

In the 13th century CE, Tai peoples arrived in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam. Their descendants became the Tai Ahoms, who rose as a dominant group in the region with the Ahom kingdom (c. 13th to 19th centuries CE). They are the ethnic group which Upper Assam Bodo-Kachari groups like the Chutias, Morans and Borahis are associated.

Along with the Tai Ahoms, other prominent groups ruled parts of the Assam valley during the medieval period, notably the Chutias, Kochs, and Dimasas. The Chutia kingdom ruled the eastern Assam from 1187 to 1523, the Koch kingdom ruled Lower Assam from 1515 to 1949, and the Dimasa kingdom ruled southern Assam from the 13th century to 1854.

The Bodo tribe, also known as the Boro, are the largest modern-day ethnolinguistic group in the state of Assam. They are concentrated in northern Assam, in Bodoland. They speak the Bodo language, one of the 22 constitutional languages of India.

Assam has always been a historically tribal state,[94] and many of the indigenous Assamese communities today retain a tribal structure. Many others, now considered non-tribal populations of Assam, were slowly converted from a tribal to a caste system through Sanskritisation.

Several indigenous tribes like the Moran, Chutia, Motok, Tai Ahoms and Koch, as well as non-indigenous[95] groups like the Tea-tribes have applied for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status,[96] a form of affirmative action laid out in the Indian Constitution for socioeconomically disadvantaged tribes. If accepted, this could make Assam a predominantly tribal state, having wide geo-political ramifications.

See also


  1. ^ a b Government of Assam Census 2011. "onlineassam". Archived from the original on 21 June 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2012.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Assam is often referred to as 'India in miniature' so far its population composition and the process of peopling are concerned". (Taher 1993:201)
  3. ^ "The racial traits, reflected through the physical features of individuals, are of such a varying degree that it is perhaps safer to divide the State's population into ethnolinguistic groups". (Taher 1993:202)
  4. ^ (Taher 1993:201–202)
  5. ^ a b "An analysis of peopling of Assam on the above ethnolinguistic basis, coupled with the scanty paleolithic, neolithic and historical evidences, reveals that there are as many as eleven waves and streams of migration into Assam. (The terms ‘wave’ and ‘stream’ are used here with specific meanings: while ‘wave’ is used to mean a migration at a particular point of time, ‘stream’ means continuity of migration for a long period, which may continue even now ever since it started, albeit with varying volume)." (Taher 1993:202)
  6. ^ (Hazarika 2017a:231)
  7. ^ "Due to lack of evidence for early humans in Northeast India prior to the late Pleistocene..." (Hazarika 2017:73)
  8. ^ "The presence of Paleographic cultural material in Northeast India is a debated issue in Indian prehistory. On the basis of tool typology, several assemblages have been placed within the context of 'Paleographic' in this region. One of the main problems of these Paleographic materials is that they occur in relatively younger deposits and in most cases in association with axes or adzes of Neolithic origin and pottery." (Hazarika 2017:75)
  9. ^ "For some reason some scholars (e.g. Gait 1983 [1926]) suggest an early Dravidian presence in the area as well, but I know of no linguistic evidence for this idea." (DeLancey 2012:14)
  10. ^ (Sankalia & Sharma 1990:36)
  11. ^ (Sircar 1990a:94)
  12. ^ a b Sharma (2012, p. 300)
  13. ^ a b "The origins of Indian Austro Asiatic speakers had earlier been correlated to the origin of O2a1-M95 (Kumar et al., 2007)." (Arunkumar & Wei 2015:547)
  14. ^ a b "A serial decrease in expansion time from east to west: 5.7±0.3 Kya in Laos, 5.2±0.6 in Northeast India, and 4.3±0.2 in EastIndia, suggested a late Neolithic east to west spread of the lineage O2a1-M95 from Laos." (Arunkumar & Wei 2015:546)
  15. ^ a b "Most scholars suggest that the first Tibeto-Burman-speaking peoples began to enter Assam at least 3,000 years ago." (DeLancey 2012:13–14)
  16. ^ a b "...Indo-Aryans had not spread out as far as to Assam before 500 BCE, at least not in mentionable number." (Guha 1984, p. 74)
  17. ^ (Hazarika 2017:108–110)
  18. ^ "[T C Sharma], with his colleagues and students, has shaped our understanding of the prehistoric cultures in all the states of Northeast India. His doctoral dissertation was the first attempt of systematic study of the surface material kept in various museums and also the excavated material from Daojali Hading. He strongly believed that the Neolithic personality of the region had emerged under strong influence of the East and Southeast Asian Neolithic traditions, which were characterized by the earlier tradition known as Hoabinhian." (Hazarika 2017:97)
  19. ^ a b "The Y haplogroup 02a is represented at a frequency of 77% in Austroasiatic groups in India and 47% in Tibeto-Burman groups of northeastern India. This patterning could suggest that Tibeto-Burman paternal lineages may have partially replaced indigenous Austroasiatic lineages in the northeast of the Indian Subcontinent and that Austroasiatic populations preceded the Tibeto-Burmans in this area, as linguists and ethnographers have speculated for over a century and a half." (van Driem 2007:237)
  20. ^ "On the Brahmaputra plain, the early Trans-Himalayans encountered the Austroasiatics, who had preceded them. The relative frequencies of the Ychromosomal haplogroup O1b1a1a (M95) in Trans-Himalayan speaking populations of the Indian subcontinent (Sahoo et al. 2006, Reddy et al. 2007, Gaziet al. 2013) suggest that a subset of the paternal ancestors of some Trans-Himalayan populations in northeastern India, e.g. certain Bodo-Koch communities, may originally have been Austroasiatic speakers with matriarchal, matrilinear or matrilocal societies, who were linguistically assimilated by Trans-Himalayans, providing a molecular genetic correlate for the ancient process of creolisation argued for by DeLancey (2014)" (van Driem 2021:199)
  21. ^ "The peopling of Assam was first started with a wave of migration of the Australoids or Austro-Asiatic speaking people from south-east Asia..."(Taher 1993:202)
  22. ^ Sidwell & Blench (2011, pp. 338–339)
  23. ^ Sidwell (2022)
  24. ^ "Rice was brought to Assam by neolithic horticultural people who spread out in all directions from their southeast Asian habitats... But they used to grow only the dry variety of it in their jhum plots..." (Guha 1984:74)
  25. ^ "(T)here is a growing body of opinion that the center of dispersal of the Austroasiatic languages may have been in, or at least included, the Brahmaputra Valley (van Driem 2001: 289–94, Diffloth 2005)." (DeLancey 2012:12)
  26. ^ "Such ["the area around the northern shores of the Bay of Bengal as the most likely location for the Urheimat of the ancient Austroasiatics.” (van Driem 2001:290)] considerations regarding the center of diversity and proto-lexicon, are subject to strong challenge (e.g. Sidwell and Blench 2011, Blench 2014) and now run against the current trend in discussions among concerned scholars in the Austroasiatic studies community." (Rau & Sidwell 2019:42)
  27. ^ "They had perhaps earlier lived in the foothills bordering the Brahmaputra valley and were driven to the hills of the Meghalaya subsequently by the later migrants of the Tibeto-Burman stock." (Taher 1993:202)
  28. ^ "The early Austro-Asiatics are now represented by the Mon-Khmer speaking Khasis (Syntengs and Pnars taken together) some of whom live in Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills districts of Assam adjoining Meghalaya." (Taher 1993:202)
  29. ^ Khasi at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019) Closed access icon
  30. ^ "The tradition indicates that there existed important kingdoms at the time the people had inhabited the Assam valley...(t)he ancient kingdoms known to us were Ka Meikha (Kamakhya), Muksiar, Mahadem, Mangkathiang and Malngiang." (Bareh 1987:269)
  31. ^ "Notably, Khasi (the only Khasi-Aslian group of mainland India) speakers residing in Meghalaya state in India show an admixed package of both Indian and East Asian mtDNA haplogroups (fig. 2 and table 2)." (Chaubey 2011:1015)
  32. ^ "The Garo, the Rabha and at least some of the Koch are, like the Khasi, matrilineal and uxorilocal. These features are not attested elsewhere in populations speaking Tibeto-Burman languages. These cultural features are best explained either by the deep and long influence of Khasi people on those Garo, Rabha, and Koch (all people now living around Meghalaya), or by the event of language shift, if we suppose that at least some of these people had Khasi ancestors. They would have abandoned their earlier Mon-Khmer languages because of the influential new TibetoBurman-speaking neighbours, but would have retained some important features of their social organization." (Jaquesson 2017:99)
  33. ^ "The mix [of Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman] would explain the group of Western Boro-Garo languages, deprived of diphthongs but equipped with specific consonant clusters (which interestingly are common in the Khasi languages) and Mon-Khmer-type social customs." (Jaquesson 2017:117)
  34. ^ a b "The second group to have come to Assam from the north-east and east are the people speaking Tibeto-Burman languages, especially eastern Himalayan, north Assam, Bodo and Naga groups of languages. These are racially Mongoloid people and unlike the Austro-Asiatic, they set up a stream of migration which has been continuing till today." (Taher 1993:202–203)
  35. ^ a b " However, they may have been preceded by speakers of Austroasiatic languages, as suggested by a number of toponyms and areal loanwords (Kakati 1995; Diffloth 2005; Konnerth 2014)." (Post & Burling 2017:214)
  36. ^ "Linguistic evidence linking Boro-Garo to the Konyak and the Jingphaw languages of Nagaland and northern Burma tells us that the Boro-Garo stock must have originally entered Assam from somewhere to the northeast." (DeLancey 2012:13)
  37. ^ Bing Su, Chunjie Xiao, Ranjan Deka, Mark T. Seielstad, Daoroong Kangwanpong, Junhua Xiao, Daru Lu, Peter Underhill, Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Ranajit Chakraborty, Li Jin, "Y chromosome haplotypes reveal prehistorical migrations to the Himalayas." Hum. Genet. (2000) 107:582-590. DOI 10.1007/s004390000406
  38. ^ "At (the time of proto-Boro-Garo ingress) the Brahmaputra valley was already settled." (DeLancey 2012:14)
  39. ^ "Among TB speakers the share of mtDNAs typical of East Asia increases to nearly two-thirds (64%), inferred from ref. 27. This scenario would be consistent with a more recent migration event or the continued movement of women into India through the maintenance of social links." (Sahoo 2006:847)
  40. ^ "These groups are represented now by Monpas and Sherdukpens living on the Bhutan and Arunachal border of Assam, Mishings and Deuris of upper Assam, the great Bodo group of people scattered all over the state and the Nagas living in Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills." (Taher 1993:203)
  41. ^ "The highlands surrounding the Brahmaputra Valley, in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, are dominated by languages of only one major family, Tibeto Burman (though there are recently-established populations of Tai, Indo-Aryan, and, across the border, Chinese speakers). But among the Tibeto-Burman languages we find tremendous diversity." (DeLancey 2012:11)
  42. ^ (DeLancey 2012:11–12)
  43. ^ (DeLancey 2012:4)
  44. ^ "Burling (2007) has suggested that the grammatical transparency and regularity of Garo indicating an origin as a creolized lingua franca, similar in structure and function to Nagamese or Naga pidgin. But what is true of Garo is also equally true of the rest of the branch, and undoubtedly of proto-Bodo-Garo, their common ancestor." (DeLancey 2012:5)
  45. ^ "Proto-Bodo-Garo first emerged as a lingua franca used for communication across the various linguistic communities of the region, and that its striking simplicity and transparency reflect a period when it was widely spoken by communities for whom it was not a native language." (DeLancey 2012:3)
  46. ^ "DeLancey (2012) argues that Proto-Boro-Garo may have in fact developed as a lingua franca within the Brahmaputra valley; we find this thesis compelling, as it would explain both the modern-day distribution of Boro-Garo languages and their simplified morphological profile by comparison with their more conservative Northern Naga neighbours." (Post & Burling 2017:227)
  47. ^ "The Y haplogroup O2a is represented at a frequency of 77% in Austroasiatic groups in India and 47% in Tibeto-Burman groups of northeastern India (Sahoo et al. 2006). This patterning could suggest that Tibeto-Burman paternal lineages may have partially replaced indigenous Austroasiatic lineages in the northeast of the Indian Subcontinent and that Austroasiatic populations preceded the Tibeto-Burmans in this area, as linguists and ethnographers have speculated for over a century and a half." (van Driem 2007:237)
  48. ^ "When Tibeto-Burman-speaking people moved down into the Valley, they can never have been as numerous as the indigenous inhabitants, who had the food resources of the Valley to grow populous on. The Tibeto-Burmification of the Valley must have been more a matter of the language replacement than wholesale population replacement." (DeLancey 2012:13)
  49. ^ "it is this situation (the Indo-Aryan surrounded by Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman in Kamarupa) that we should imagine Proto-Boro-Garo forming as a grammatically simplified lingua franca." (DeLancey 2012:16)
  50. ^ "The first was a technique of gravitational irrigation with its applicability limited only to sloping submontane tracts watered by hill streams. It involved the throwing up of dams across the hill streams in their upper reaches and leading the stored-up water to the fields through a network of dug-out channels. The Kacharis were adept in this technique." (Guha 1982:481)
  51. ^ "Some advanced sections of the tribal population, like the Kacharis, also marginally grew wet rice of another variety in the submontane tracts. This variety was kharma ahu, which was irrigated but not always necessarily transplanted. At the same time, all ethnic groups without exception had also a varying interest in the dry ahu culture." (Guha 1982:481–482)
  52. ^ "This region has a traditional irrigation system such as bamboo drip irrigation in Meghalaya, water conservation among the Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh, zabo system of Nagaland and dong irrigation among the Bodos of Assam which are traditionally managed by the farmers." (Devi 2018:69)
  53. ^ " Ti- or di- (“water”) is a common affix used by Tibeto-Burman languages to designate rivers."(Ramirez 2014:4)
  54. ^ "Other scholars have pointed out that other river names such as Dibang, Dihang, Doyang and the like were mixture of Bodo di and -ong (Austric) which means water." (Bareh 1987:269–270)
  55. ^ "...appear to call the land including Assam Kirrhadia after the Kirata population." (Sircar 1990, pp. 60–61)
  56. ^ "Almost at the same time as the Tibeto-Burmans, or perhaps a bit later, there started another stream of migration of the people speaking Indo-Aryan languages from the plains of northern India, perhaps during the first millennium B.C." (Taher 1993:203)
  57. ^ "Revised versions of the Mahabharata and several puranas (c. 2nd century BC - 2nd century AD), the Kalika Purana of c.9th-10th centuries and the Prasastis of Kamarupa kings—all these indicate this early Indo-Aryanization of Assam." (Guha 1984:74)
  58. ^ "It was the Indo-Aryans who brought wet rice (sali), iron, plough and cattle (the latter as a source of power and milk) to the region." (Guha 1984, p. 74)
  59. ^ "(Austroasiatic substrate in Assamese) is consistent with the general assumption that the lower Brahmaputra drainage was originally Austroasiatic speaking. It also implies the existence of a substantial Austroasiatic-speaking population still at the time of the spread of Aryan culture into Assam, i.e. it implies that up until the 4th–5th centuries CE, at least, and probably much later, Tibeto-Burman languages had not completely supplanted Austroasiatic in the region." (DeLancey 2012:13)
  60. ^ " The mixed population absorbed Sanskrit culture, and the latter also, in its turn, absorbed many local cultural traits. Kamarupa moved from protohistory to history in the 4th century AD" (Guha 1984, p. 76)
  61. ^ "Virtually all of Assam's kings, from the fourth-century Varmans down to the eighteenth-century Ahoms, came from non-Aryan tribes that were only gradually Sanskritised." (Urban 2011, p. 234)
  62. ^ "... (it shows) that in Ancient Assam there were three languages viz. (1) Sanskrit as the official language and the language of the learned few, (2) Non-Aryan tribal languages of the Austric and Tibeto-Burman families, and (3) a local variety of Prakrit (ie a MIA) wherefrom, in course of time, the modern Assamese language as a MIL, emerged." (Sharma 1978, pp. 0.24–0.28)
  63. ^ " Instead, we should imagine a linguistic patchwork, with an eastern Indo-Aryan vernacular (not yet really "Assamese") in the urban centers and along the river, and Tibeto-Burman and Austroasiatic communities everywhere." (DeLancey 2012:15–16)
  64. ^ (Boruah 2008)
  65. ^ "Here I will follow the lead of Wendy Doniger, who suggests that the development of Hinduism as a whole in South Asia was not simply a process of Sanskritisation, that is, the absorption of non-Hindu traditions into the brahminic system; rather, it also involved a process of ‘Deshification’, that is, the influence of local (deshi) and indigenous cultures on brahmaic religion and the mutual interaction between Sanskritic and deshi traditions." (Urban 2011, p. 233)
  66. ^ "Khilji was defeated and some of his captive soldiers settled in Assam, especially in the area between Hajo and Sipajhar in the Brahmaputra valley." (Taher 1993:203)
  67. ^ (Terwiel 1996:275)
  68. ^ (Taher 1993:204)
  69. ^ "Ahoms played a significant role in widening the base of the wet-rice culture of the sali variety in the extensive and undulating plains of eastern Assam. Apparently, the iron implements they had for reclamation and surface levelling work were relatively more efficient and abundant than their neighbours'." (Guha 1982:482)
  70. ^ "This is observed not only in Upper Burma, but also in Upper Assarn. There, the Ahoms assimilated some of their Naga, Moran and Barahi neighbours and later, also large sections of the Chutiya and Kachari tribes. This Ahomisation process went on until the expanded Ahom society itself began to be Hinduised from the mid-16th century onward." (Guha 1983:12)
  71. ^ (Taher 1993:204)
  72. ^ "which added a new element to the population mosaic of Assam. These ‘later-day’ Tai people entering Assam during the period from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century are the Khamtis, Khamyangs, Aitons, Phakes and Tunings. Each group came at different time from different regions across the Patkai. They are all Buddhists and live in small groups in upper Assam." (Taher 1993:204)
  73. ^ "(A)bout 500 Sikh soldiers from Punjab... migrated to Assam on the eve of the Battle of Hadirachaki (1820-22) on the invitation of Ahom King Chandrakanta Singh for protecting Assam against Burmese aggression. Nearly all the Sikh soldiers died on battlefield. Some of the survivors, migrated upstream of River Brahmaputra by boat and reached the Titamora rivulet. They disembarked in the western bank, the Chaparmukh, and settled in the area and finally married locals and raised families." (Sharma 2013:1012)
  74. ^ (Taher 1993:205)
  75. ^ "As the local people were found unwilling to work in the tea gardens as labourers, the planters recruited indentured labourers from the tribes of Chotanagpur area of Bihar, northern and western Orissa, eastern Madhya Pradesh and northern Andhra Pradesh to work in the tea gardens...They belong to such tribes as Munda, Ho, Santal, Savara, Oraon, Gond, etc." (Taher 1993:205)
  76. ^ (Baruah 1999:54)
  77. ^ (Baruah 1999:55)
  78. ^ "Colonialism as a new order based on fundamentally new cultural norms, even new forms of knowledge, required people with new skills–most obviously command of the English language." (Baruah 1999:58)
  79. ^ "Thus started a new wave of Indo-Aryan migration with the coming in of hundreds of Bengali government service holders and professionals, Rajasthani tradesmen and north-Indian labourers to construct roads, railways, public buildings and Nepali security personnel." (Taher 1993:205)
  80. ^ "In Assam the people who came to staff the new positions open to the "natives" were mostly Hindu Bengalis. Indeed, Bengali was the court language and the language of the new government schools of Assam for more than three decades from 1837 to 1873. Besides their positions in the colonial bureaucracy Bengali Hindus soon came to have a virtual monopoly in the modern professions." (Baruah 1999:58–59)
  81. ^ (Guha 2016, pp. 55–56)
  82. ^ (Baruah 1999:61)
  83. ^ (Baruah 1999:61–62)
  84. ^ (Sharma 2011:93)
  85. ^ (Sharma 2011:94)
  86. ^ "Though initially an insignificant source of government revenue, these grazing fees were indeed an expanding source because of the steady rise in the immigration of Nepali and other graziers along with their cattle." (Guha 2016:74)
  87. ^ (Baruah 1999:62–64)
  88. ^ "Another wave of immigration started in the last two decades of the nineteenth century with the coming in of landless Muslim agricultural immigrants from the then eastern Bengal (now Bangladesh) at the instance of the landlords of old Goalpara district and with the connivance of the British rulers." (Taher 1993:205–206)
  89. ^ (Baruah 1999:56)
  90. ^ (Baruah 1999:55–56)
  91. ^ (Baruah 1999:56)
  92. ^ "Contrary to Mullan's mischievous predictions," writes Monirul Hussain, "the entire East Bengal Muslim peasant community adopted the Asomiya [Axomiya or Assamese] language as their mother tongue." (Baruah 1999:57)
  93. ^ (Taher 1993:206)
  94. ^ (Boruah 2008:116)
  95. ^ Das, N. (February 2016). "Tea Tribes of Assam: Colonial Exploitation and Assertion of Adivasi Rights K." Journal of Adivasi and Indigenous Studies (JAIS). 3 (1): 1–16. ISSN 2394-5524.
  96. ^ "6 Assam tribes may soon get Scheduled Tribes status". The Times of India. Retrieved 31 August 2017.