It is heartening to learn that the construction of tribe heritage museums numbering 32 for different tribes of the state at different centres, are nearing completion, with the patronage of the Honourable Chief Minister with his generous sanction of ₹10 lakhs for each museum. The Department of Arts & Culture, Government of Manipur is thankful for the progress of works. After the completion of the museum, each tribe will be keeping the equipments, implements, household wares , etc., which our forefathers used at different times for running dwelling houses, fishing, hunting, ploughing, rearing of domestic animals, etc. These museums would be permanent assets of indigenous communities and the state also would proud of its rich cultural heritage. When these museums are opened, people from inside and outside the state / country would throng and the places would be important touristssites. Students of schools, colleges and universities mostly of History, Geography, Anthropology, Sociology, etc., would be greatly benefitted. The tourists and visitors can easily learn the names of tribes/ indigenous / native people who have been living in the state, their ways of life and culture, among others.
The very surprising and unexpected thing that happened in the recent newspaper reports are the missing of Meetei museum in the list of 32 tribalheritage museums to be established by the Department of Arts & Culture, Government of Manipur. It appears that the authorities in the concern department do not understand the meaning of tribe and indigenous people. The term “TRIBE” is used in the Indian Constitution and ’INDIGENOUS’ in the Supreme Court of India and UNO. The dictionary meaning of tribe here is not applicable.
Every tribe cannot be an indigenous people but every indigenouspeople is a tribe. Meetei community being an indigenous people in this land with 76 kings since MeidinguNangdaLairenPakhangba in 33AD upto Maharaja Bodhachandra till 1949 with written historical records is the clear evidence that Meetei community is an INDIGENOUS people/TRIBE of this land like Tangkhul, Kabui, Maram, Thangal, Mao, Anal, Maring, Moyon, Koireng, etc. None can challenge this veracity. Any community or so called ’TRIBE’ of the state can challenge this statement.
Therefore, the authorities in the Department of Arts and Culture should include a museum for Meetei tribe / indigenous people to avoid any complicacy that may arise in future on account of wrong interpretation of ‘TRIBE’ in the narrow sense of dictionary/ Anthropology discipline. The demand for the inclusion in the ST list of the state and country by Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee (STDCM) is more than proved that the Meetei is a tribe, which is synonymous with indigenous people/native people/adivasi. The name of the tribe heritage museum should be “Indigenous Heritage Museum” to avoid any dispute in future.
Dr. Thangjam Ranjit
Sinam Leikai, Thangmaiband.
Mobile No. 8787692023