The term “ Tribal” refers to a social group usually with a definite area, dialect Cultural homogeneity and unifying social organization. Each tribe has its own religion and mode of worship including a totem. The tribe is more or less self- sufficient economic unit. They have a moral code, religious beliefs and rituals.1A tribe is a homogenous and self contained unit with its own administration and geographical distinction.
The state, Odisha has a population of 41,947,358 (according to 2011 census), 2 divided into several castes and tribes, most of the people live in rural areas. One of the demographic features of this state is its population, that is distributed into 62 cornrnunltles.3
These tribes are concentrated mostly in the western hill districts of Keonjhar, Koraput, Mahurbhanj,Sundargarh and Dhenkanal. These sixty two tribal groups are widely different from one another in term of their numerical strength, degree of economic development, performance of religious rites and level of acculturatton.4
These tribal groups have been divided into three categories as per their location and socio-economic status.5 The first category of tribes live in isolation in the remote hilly region and forest areas totally depending upon nature. Their exposure to the outside world is totally nil.
Thus they are uninfluenced. They do not speak and understand any other language except their own. They live in small communities and maintain their traditional religious rites, culture and social organization. The tribes namely Kondh of Koraput and Phulabani, Suara, Bondo and Koya of Koraput and Ganjam and Juanga and Bhuyan of Keonjhar districts are included in this category.
In the second category Santal, Bathudi, Paroja, Ho, Kharia and Kisan etc. mostly residing in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts are included. These communities are often termed as tribes in transition.
They are partially isolated. Non-tribes are largely influenced by their religious practices, culture and social organizations. They speak and understand Odia besides their own language and are partly dependent upon nature.
The third category of tribes are mainly found in Koraput and also in some parts of Keonjhar district. They are Kuli, Shahara, Sounti, Gonds, Matya and Holva etc. They are integrated into Hindu society and have lost almost all their tribal characteristics.
Keonjhar: Physical aspects & Demography:
Keonjhar emerged as one of the districts of Orissa 1stJanuary, 1948. This district is bounded by Mayurbhanj and Bhadrak to the east, Jajpur to the South, Dhenkanal and Sundargarh to the west and Singhbhum district of Jharkhand state to the north. Keonjhar district covers with a geographical area of 8240 Sq. Kms in the northern part of Odisha.
It lies between 21°01′ N and 22° 10′ N latitude and 85° 11′ E to 86° 22′ E longitude. Wild ranges of lofty hills and dense forest from the boundary between Keonjhar, and the neighboring states of Dhenkanal, Pal-Iahara and Bonai. This range is the water shed of the river Baitarani on the North and Bramhani on the south. The water-shed which runs from North to south in the shape of a crescent is the home of the primitive tribes, since the ancient time, chief among them being Bhuyan and Juang.6
The district with 5.23 percent of state area and 4.35 percent of state population occupies 12th “place in respect of both population and area in the state. 7 It comprises of three sub- divisions, Viz; Champua, Keonjhar Sadar and Anandapur and 13 Blocks, 13 Tahasils 286 G.PS and 2132 villages. The tribal population which form 46.95 percent of the district population has mostly concentrated in all block of Sadar and Champua Sub-division and some portion of Anandapur sub-division.
The concentration of scheduled tribes is highest in Keonjhar Sadar and lowest in the Anandapur sub-division.
As per 2001, census, the total population of Keonjhar District is 15,61, 1990. The district comprises of total 7,90, 036 male population and total 7,71,954 female population.8 Total S.c. Population of the district is 1,81,488 whereas the ST population is 6,95,141.
According to the 2011 census, Keonjhar district has a population of 18,02,777 out of which male population is 9,07,135 and female population is 8,95,642.9 Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 15.42%. Keonjhar has a literacy of 69%, out of male literacy 79.22 percent and 58.70 percent female literacy.
The scheduled tribes of the district constitute 44.5% of the total population where as the scheduled castes constitute 11.62%. The literacy rate of the district is 69%.