Recently, the Manipur government has been asked by the Centre to examine a representation seeking the delisting of certain Kuki and Zomi tribes from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list of Manipur.

About Kuki and Zomi Tribes:

  • The Kuki and Zomi Tribes are ethnic groups originally from the Bangladesh region, predominantly residing in the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram. 
  • These communities are also referred to as the Chin or Mizo people, sharing a common ancestry and cultural heritage. 
  • Their languages belong to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo language family, which is part of the Tibeto-Burman branch within the broader Sino-Tibetan language group.
  • In the state of Manipur, the Zou/Zomi people hold official recognition as one of the thirty-three indigenous communities and are classified as one of the Scheduled Tribes. 
  • As per the 2001 Census, the Zou/Zomi population in Manipur totals approximately 20,000, constituting less than 3% of the overall population. 
  • The majority of the community resides in the districts of Churachandpur and Chandel in Manipur.

Political Structure:

  • The Kuki tribe organizes its social and political framework around clans, villages, and chiefs. Clans, traced through the paternal line, form the basic unit of kinship and identity. 
  • Villages, led by hereditary chiefs with executive, judicial, and religious authority, serve as the primary units of administration.
  • Chiefs own and distribute village resources based on needs and merits.

Living Style:

  • The tribes embrace a traditional lifestyle deeply connected to nature. 
  • Engaging in jhum or shifting cultivation, they clear forest patches, burn, and cultivate crops like rice, maize, and millet.
  • Hunting, gathering forest products, and raising domestic animals (dogs, pigs, buffaloes, goats, poultry) for sustenance


  • Kuki and Zomi people traditionally followed animism, with beliefs in spirits and ancestor worship.
  • Christian missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to widespread conversion to Christianity, particularly Protestantism.
  • Presently, Christianity is the predominant religion, while some minorities still practice animism, Judaism, or Islam.

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