The tribes of Nicobar: Shompens and Nicobarese

The Shompens and the Nicobarese are both from the Mongoloid stock. Though the tribes  still live by hunting and gathering mainly, they have accepted change,and help from government. As a result they have prospered and multiplied.

The Shompens

Like the Nicobarese, Shompens are also inhabitants of Great Nicobar. They belong to the Mongoloid race. A major group of Shompens is living in the Alexandra and Galathia river area. Very shy and yet, hostile by nature (towards outsiders), these tribesmen are very vulnerable to diseases because of their weak physiology.

They are not a very well understood tribe. The smaller division of Shompens, the Mawa Shompen tribe lives close to the coastal region. This tribe suffered the most during the Tsunami of 2004.

The Nicobarese

The indigenous inhabitants of Nicobar Island, Nicobarese too belong to the Mongoloid race. They are probably the descendants of the Malay (South East Asia) and the Mon (Mayanmar) tribes. The Nicobarese too are a very isolated and poorly understood tribe .

These are mainly ‘pig herders’ and live by hunting and gathering. They follow a patriarchal joint family system called ‘Tuhet’ where no individual ownership is accepted or encouraged. The Nicobarese too suffered a huge loss during the 2004 Tsunami as Nicobar island bore the major brunt of  it.