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A History Of Change

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Chapter Summary

Arunachal Pradesh's population of one million contains about 35 tribes. In oral stories and in social practice, Apatanis draw a firm boundary between themselves and the halyang. Apatanis also define themselves (tanii) in opposition to their tribal neighbours (misan). Although roughly equidistant from the high Himalayas and the Brahmaputra River, since about 1800 the Apatani valley has been influenced far more by changes emanating from Assam than by those from Tibet. As a result of events set in motion by British colonialism, an unscripted Apatani oral tradition is now surrounded by literacy in Hindi and English. Christianity and Hinduism have expanded into villages, beyond the boundaries that had separated Apatanis from the halyang since first contact in the late nineteenth century. These changes, and perceptions of culture loss, have prompted efforts toward cultural preservation. This history of change forms an explanatory background to Apatani oral tradition.

Keywords: Apatani oral tradition; Apatani valley; Arunachal Pradesh; British colonialism; Christianity; halyang; Hinduism; social practice



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