Nagaland, one of the Seven States of North East India, is inhabited by 16 major tribes as well as sub-tribes. Each tribe is unique in character with its own distinct customs, languages and attires. All the tribes have their own traditions, cultural practices, festivals, folk songs and dances which depict their history. These are passed down to generations by word of mouth. Nagas are creative by nature and every tribe has its own unique and colorful shawls and wrap-arounds.
1. Angami Tribe
The Angamis are hill people, depend on cultivation and livestock-rearing, and are known for terraced wet-rice cultivation. The major religion followed is Christianity. Angami territory is made up of the present Kohima district, which is divided into four regions: Southern Angami, Western Angami, Northern Angami and Chakro Angami. The former Eastern Angami is now recognized as Chakhesang.
Main festival: Sekrenyi (Ten-day celebration every February)
2. Ao Tribe
The Aos are one of the major tribes of Nagaland. They have a rich tradition of clothing; the Ao Naga warrior shawl is called Mangkotepsu. Aos were the first Naga tribe to embrace Christianity and by virtue of this they availed themselves of a western education. In the process, they became a pioneering tribe among the Nagas in many fields.
Main festival: Moatsu Mong (Three-day celebration, first week of May every year)
Language: Mongsen Chungli
3. Chakhesang Tribe
Most of the villages of this tribe fall under the Phek district and Pfutsero, Chozuba sub-division of Nagaland. The tribe is divided into two groups known as Chokri and Khezha. Originally, Chakhesang consisted of three major sub-tribes, namely Chokri, Khezha and Sangtam, from where the word Chakhesang came, taking the first syllable of each tribe: “cha” from Chokri, “khe” from khezha and “sang” from Sangtam. Chakhesang consist of two major groups, Chokri and Khezha, and one minor group Zhamai or Zhavame, who belong to the Poumai Naga tribe living predominantly in Manipur.
Main festival: Sukrunye and Thsukhenyie (Celebrated every year in January and May)
Language: Chokri and Khezha
4. Chang Tribe
Agriculture is the traditional occupation of the Changs, and jhum cultivation is practised. Rice, millet, pulses and vegetables are the main crops. Trade and business were practised mainly as subsidiary occupations. Traditional Chang cuisine is non-vegetarian and comprises a variety of meat and fish. Rice is the staple food of the tribe. Milk, fruits and vegetables were not a major part of traditional Chang food habits, but have been adopted widely in modern times.
Main festival: Naknyulem (Celebrated every year in July)
5. Kachari Tribe
The history of the Kachari Kingdom is nothing but the history of the Dimasa Kachari Kingdom. The Dimasa people (or Dima-basa or Dimasa-Kachari) are a group of people inhabiting Assam and Nagaland. Gifted with a rich cultural heritage, the Kachari tribe is one of the indigenous tribes of the North East. One of the noted features of this tribe is their multi-hued tribal attire. The major religions followed are Hinduism and Christianity. The Kachari tribes are mainly found in the Dimapur district of Nagaland.
Main festival: Bushu or Buhsu Jiba (Celebrated annually in the last week of January)
Language: Grao-Dima (Dimasa)
6. Khiamniungan Tribe
The people of Khiamniungan trace their origins to a place called Khiamngan. Legend has it that there was once a great flood and people began to go up to a higher elevation. As the flood subsided they descended downhill and started the first settlement of the new era at Khiamngan. The Khiamngan gradually moved in different directions to several hamlets/villages. The Khiamniungan tribes are mostly found in Tuensang district of Nagaland and the adjoining areas of Burma.
Main festival: Miu (Celebrated every year in the second week of May)