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Tribals of Odisha
In India there is an amalgam of 437 tribes, and in Orissa the number is 62. According to recent Census, in Orissa the total strength of tribal population is approximately seven million which constitutes 22.21% of the total population of the State. Linguistically the tribes of India are broadly classified into four categories, namely (1) Indo-Aryan speakers, (2) Dravidian speakers, (3) Tibet-Burmese speakers, and (4) Austria speakers.
In Orissa the speakers of the Tibet-Burmese language family are absent, and therefore Orissan tribes belong to other three language families. The Indo-Aryan language family in Orissa includes Dhelki-Oriya, Matia, Haleba, Jharia, Saunti, Laria and Oriya (spoken by Bathudi and the acculturated sections of Bhuyans, Juang, Kondh, Savara, Raj Gond etc.). The Austria language family includes eighteen tribal languages namely, Birija, Parenga, Kisan, Bhumiji,
Koda, Mahili Bhumiji, Mirdha-Kharia, Ollar Gadaba, Juang, Bondo, Didayee, Karmali, Kharia, Munda, Ho, Mundari and Savara. And within the Dravidian language family there are nine languages in Orissa, namely, Pengo, Gondi, Kisan, Konda, Koya. Parji, Kui, Kuvi and Kurukh or Oraon.
Each type has a distinct style of life which could be best understood in the paradigm of nature, man and spirit complex, that is, on the basis of relationship with nature, fellow men and the supernatural.
Tribes of the first type, namely Kharia, Mankidi, Mankidia and Birhor, live in the forests of Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts, exclusively depend on forest resources for their livelihood by practicing hunting, gathering and collecting. The Koya which belongs to the Dravidian linguistic group, is the lone pastoral and cattle-breeder tribal community in Orissa.