The Poumai Naga country is geographically located in Manipur and Phek district in Nagaland. The Poumai is one of the oldest and major Naga tribe and biggest tribe in Manipur. According to Hill house tax in 2001, the total population of Poumai tribe is 151,005. (including the Poumai in Nagaland). About 95.7% of the total population of Poumai inhabits in Senapati district, Manipur. There are four villages in Phek district, Nagaland with a population of about 6500 people9. The Mao and Poumai progenitor was same and they are supposed to be called as Poumai or Poumai Naga but the Poumai Naga tribe (excluding Mao) was recognized as the sub-tribe of Mao due to erroneous information passed by some interpreters to the British Anthropological survey teams in Manipur.10 Thus the Poumai Naga and Mao are recognized as MAO tribe till the Poumai Naga tribe was recognized as separate tribe. The Poumai Naga tribe is one the important tribe in Manipur and Nagaland since time immemorial. Their Pottery and Poutai (Pou salt) production was well known to the entire tribal areas in Manipur and Nagaland in ancient time.
The Central Government of India had recognized Poumai Naga as a separate tribe in 2002, under the Constitution of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled tribe Order (Amendment) Act 2002. The percentage of Poumai Naga to the total population of scheduled tribe in Manipur was about 19.8 percent and about 71.34 percent to the total population of scheduled in Senapati district in 1991. The percentage of Poumai Naga to the total population of Senapati district is 38.1 in 2001. About 43 percent of the total villages have no bus service and about 10% of the total villages have no jeep able road linking to other village. There are many villages, which cannot ply jeep in rainy season. The villages located in the dense forests in the central and eastern parts have to travel on foot for about 5-6 hours to catch the bus from the nearest bus station in other village. In 1990s, there are some changes in respect of transportation and communications, which brought little ease to the Poumai tribe in some villages.
The present Senapati District was formed as Manipur North District in 1972 under government of Manipur. Under the extra ordinary Manipur Gazette notification on 5th Aug. 1983, the North District became Senapati District. The total area of the district is about 3271 Sq.Km. The name of the district has been derived from a Manipur countrier named Senapati, who married a Mao-Naga girl during the reign of king Charainongba in 15th century A.D. The Senapati district lies between 24030/ north and 25045/ north latitudes and 93030/ East and 94030/ longitudes.4 The Imphal East and West border it on the south, on north by Phek district of Nagaland, on the east by Ukhrul district and on the west by Tamenglong district.
Table Tribe wise Population in Senapati District, Manipur 2001
|Name of the Tribe||Population||Villages||Houses||% to District total population|
|1. Poumai Naga||1,44505||60||16,462||38.1|
Sources: Hill house Tax, Assessment Report, 1999- 2001
A profile: Senapati District-2002, Some Basic Facts of Senapati District: Page-3
The Poumai Naga tribe has the highest population in single tribe in Senapati district with the population of 1, 51,005. The second highest comes the Mao tribe with the population of 58,212. The Poumai Naga comprise of 38.1% to the total population of the district. About 10.1% of the total villages in Senapati district are Poumai Naga villages. It is interesting to note that the Poumai Naga has only 60 villages but with the population of 144505 people, where as the Kuki and including some other Naga tribes have 401 villages but with the population of 120313 people only. On an average the total population of one Poumai Naga village is about 2408 people, where as the total population of one Kuki village or other small Naga village is about 300 people in Senapati District.
The Topography of Poumai areas
The Poumai country in Senapati district is border by Phek district, Nagaland on the north, Ukhrul district on the east, Tadubi sub-division on the west and Saikul sub-division on the south. The total area of Poumai Naga Dominated Areas (PNDA) is about 1200 Sq. km., which lays between 93047/E – 94018/ E longitudes and 25010/N – 25031/N latitudes.11 The land is fertile with copious flora and fauna.
Some of the famous rivers in Manipur like the Barak, the Iril and the Ngari River rise from the land of Poumai. The general elevation of the area is sloping form north-south direction and they are roughly parallel to each other. The land of Poumai is endowed with aesthetic nature that anybody who loves the nature will feel at home and develop a close bond with the land. The land is abundant with natural resources like forest resources, land resources, mineral resources and water resources.
Climate and Rainfall
The Monsoon type of climate is found in entire Poumai Naga dominated areas. The Poumai villages are situated in the hilly ranges with dense forest. There is different climate in the northern and southern parts of Poumai land. The area is small but due to many hills and ranges, the different areas prevails different weather. The higher altitude of the central parts received relatively more rainfall and other part of the land. The northern part of the area is relatively colder as compare to the southern villages. However the entire Poumai country experiences a moderate temperature through out the year. The coldest months are December and January, while the hottest months are May and June and the highest rainfall also recorded in these two months.
The maximum temperature is 34.00centigrade and the minimum temperature is 3.00centigrade, which was recorded in 2000 at Kangpokpi. Kangpokpi is about 55 Kms away from the interior part of the Poumai villages. There is heavy rainfall during the Monsoon, but in winter with scanty rainfall or dry. The rainy season commence from the month of April, which is the time for the farmers to sow the seeds. About sevens months i.e. from April to October received rainfall in the areas. The annual rainfall recorded was 1031.42 mm in 1986 and 1910.75 mm in 1989 at Kangpokpi. The annual rainfall on an average in Poumai country is around 1400mm.
Flora and Fauna
Both evergreen and deciduous forests are found in Poumai Naga villages. The evergreen forests and mixed forests in the area show the entire land a beautiful landscape. Some of the trees in the mixed forests shade their leaves in February-March. The entire forests land of Poumai looks very beautiful and romantic in April as the new leaves sprouted and bloom in spring. The elevation of the northern and central parts is higher with more thick forests, while the southern and western parts are less dense forests. Some pastureland is found in the southern villages like Koide, Tunggam, Ngamju villages etc. Some of the important trees found in the area are the Pine, Oak, Teak, Vaosii, Raisii, Chesii etc. The soil is mostly deficient in nitrogen, but it contains fair amount of phosphorous, potassium and other plant food ingredients. This made the entire villages with rich forests in Poumai land.
Every year the trees are cut down abundantly for Jhum cultivation and for firewood. The forest areas were consequently depleting year by year. As the population increases, there is more consumption of firewood. However there is not much problem for firewood in present situation since there is continuous regeneration of forestland and people are gradually realizing the important of forest. Wild fire is another threat to the forests in the land. The villagers were ignorance of wild fire and destroyed the forests in abound.
There is variation in elevations, climatic conditions and vegetation in Poumai land. A variety of animals are found in the land. To an avid explorer of wild life, the rich variety of rare birds and animals will be of immense interest. Many wild animals are found in Poumai country. Different kinds of birds are found in the area. One of the most important birds found in the land is Hornbill. Hornbill feather and wings are used for decorating pierced ears holes during the tribal festivals. Many migratory birds also flooded in the land during the winter. Bison or Mithun is mostly found in Poumai villages. Mithun (buffalo) is mainly rear for ploughing paddy fields. The wild pig, wild cat, Otter, field mouse, porcupines, stag, deer, monkey, bear etc are mostly found. Some of the important villages where wild animals are found are – Ngamju, Ngari, Khongdei, Kodom, Tingsong, Khamsom etc. All the wild animals are mostly confined in the eastern part of the land, where there is less population and more forests. Hunting is not an important occupation of the people but the villagers continue to hunt the wild animals and the population of the fauna is diminishing year by year.
1. Geography part I Board of Secondary Education Manipur, (First edition), Imphal: Published by
Secretary of BSEM, 1984: Page-129
2. Ibid: Page-129
3. Statistical Abstract of Manipur 2001, Imphal: Directorate of Economics and Statistics,
Government of Manipur: Page-39
4. District Handbook, Senapati District, Manipur, Census of India 1991, Series 15, Part xii-A&B,
5. A profile: Senapati District 2002, Published by District information officer, Manipur:
Senapati District, 2002 Page-1
6. District Handbook, Senapati District, Manipur, Census of India 1991, Series 15, Part xii-A&B,
7. Issue relating to the territorial Integrity of Manipur-A Naga perspective, compiled and published by the United Naga Council working group, December 10, 2002 p-5
8. A profile: Senapati District 2002, Published by District information officer, Manipur:
Senapati District, 2002 Page-4
9. Rhi Zhonyi 2002, Poumai Community in Nagaland, Souvenir: Poumai Thounii Celebration 2002 p-23
10. Personal Interviews with R. Vio on 03-6-03 at Vakho.
11. Poumai Naga Tribe Recognition, 2003, PTM, Delhi, Souvenir, p-1
Copyright@ Dr. Thohe Pou