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Colonial Rule and Tribal Life

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Colonial Rule and Tribal Life - Lesson Summary

The British wanted the tribals to settle in one place so that it would be easier for them to control us. They introduced land settlements for a regular supply of revenue.

Forests were a source of livelihood for the tribals, and so the forest laws formulated by the British had a significant impact on their lives. The British declared all forests as state property and classified certain forests as reserved and the tribals weren’t allowed to cultivate, hunt or gather fruits in these areas.

This forced many of the tribals to move to other places in search of livelihood and created a scarcity of laborers for the British.

Some tribals were allocated small patches of land near the forest for cultivation, and in return asked to work for the British. The tribals eventually protested against these laws. The revolt of Songram Sangma in Assam in 1906 and the forest Satyagraha in the Central Provinces in 1930 were two such major revolts against the British.

It also affected the lives of tribals greatly as they were exploited by moneylenders and traders. By the 19 th century, many traders and moneylenders started coming to the forests for purchasing forest produce, offering loans and obtaining cheap labour.

The 19 th century saw many tea plantations and mines coming up in different parts of India. Since the forests were now under the British, many tribals were forced to leave their homes and work in these plantations and coal mines.

The British rule also affected tribal chiefs. The chiefs enjoyed administrative and economic powers earlier but now had to follow the rules laid down by the British, pay tributes to the British officers and stop practising their traditional functions.


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