Dongria Kandh Tribe 

#GS1 Tribes 

Many hands ensure green fields for Odisha’s tribal villages, Traditional systems of sharing work sustain communities. 

  • The concept of labour cooperatives is still in vogue in almost all tribal communities. 
  • This includes the Dongria Kandh, Juanga, Lanjia Saura, Saura, Didayi, Paudi Bhuyan and Kandh in Odisha. 

More about Dongria Tribes 

  • Ethnicity: Dongria Kondh people are members of the Kondhs, of the Munda ethnic group.  
  • Location: They are located in the Niyamgiri hills. Niyamgiri is a hill range spread over 250 which falls under the Rayagada and Kalahandi District in Odisha.  
  • Beliefs: They worship Niyam Raja (Niyamraja), the supreme god of the Niyamgiri jungle.  
  • Population: The Dongria Kondh community numbers approximately 8,000 people, inhabiting about 100 villages.  
  • Nomenclature: They derive their name from dongar, meaning ‘hill’ and the name for themselves is Jharnia: protector of streams.  
  • Language: The people of Niyamgiri use Kui language. Kui language is not written, but it is spoken among the people of Kondh community.  
  • Lifestyle: The Dongria have distinctive jewellery, tattoos and hairstyles. Women wear many rings through their ears and three through their noses, while boys wear two nose rings. Dongria girls wear clips in their hair and rings and beads around their necks.  
  • Economy: They sustain themselves from the resources of the Niyamgiri forests, practising horticulture and shifting cultivation.  
  • Mining dispute: They have been at the centre of a dispute over mining rights in the area.  
  • Vedanta Resources planned to extract the estimated $2billion-worth of bauxite that lies under the surface of the hills.  

The company planned to create an open-cast mine that would have violated Niyam Dongar, disrupted its rivers and spelt the end of the Dongria Kondh as a distinct people. 


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