Raute people

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Raute elder drums at public dance in Jajarkot District, Nepal. Photo: J. Fortier

Raute are a nomadic ethnic group officially recognized by the Government of Nepal. They are known especially for their hunting of langur and macaque monkeys for subsistence. They also gather wild forest tubers, fruits, and greens on a regular basis. They normally do no gardening, farming, or work for others as tenants or wage laborers. To obtain grain, iron, cloth, and jewelry, they trade handmade wooden bowls and boxes to local farmers. They do not sell other forest products, bushmeat, or forest medicinal plants.

Their population is estimated at about 650 persons living in small settlements in the Karnali and Makahali (Kali) watershed regions of western Nepal, but there are probably less than 150 of the still nomadic hunting Raute. This latter were located in western Nepal by the American anthropologist Johan Reinhard, who conducted ethnographic research among them and the Raji, a related ethnic group of largely settled agriculturalists. The Raute language is currently classified as Tibeto-Burman. It is called "Raute" in most studies and sometimes "Khamci," meaning "our talk" in a few other studies. The Raute use this name for their autonym, their own name for themselves, as well as their exonym, the name used by outsiders to refer to them. It is closely related to the language spoken by two related ethnic groups, the Ban Raji ("Little Rulers of the Forest") and Raji ("Little Rulers") of the same region (Fortier and Rastogi 2004). The closest well-documented language to Raute known at the present time is Chepang, spoken by an ethnic group of west-central Nepal who also have been hunter-gatherers until the current generation.

Rautes emphasize that they wish to remain full-time foragers and not assimilate into the surrounding farming population.


  • Bista, Dor Bahadur 1978 Encounter with the Raute: Last Hunting Nomads of Nepal. Kailash 4(4):317-327.;
  • Fortier, Jana 2009 Kings of the Forest: The Cultural Resilience of Himalayan Hunter-Gatherers. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press;
  • ___ 2003 Reflections on Raute Identity. Studies in Nepalese History and Society.;
  • Fortier, Jana, and Kavita Rastogi 2004 Sister Languages? Comparative Phonology of Two Linguistics 21:42-52.;
  • Rastogi, Kavita, and Jana Fortier 2005 Daa, Nii, Sum/Khung: Comparative Vocabulary of the West-Central Himalayan Languages Rawati (Raji) and Khamci (Raute). Indian Linguistics 66:105-115.;
  • Reinhard, Johan 1974 The Raute: Notes on a Nomadic Hunting and Gathering Tribe of Nepal. Kailash, A Journal of Himalayan Studies 2(4): 233-271, Kathmandu.
  • Singh, Nanda Bahadur 1997 The Endangered Raute Tribe: Ethnobiology and Biodiversity. Kathmandu: Global Research Carrel for Ethnobiology --
  • Shahu, Man Bahadur 2060 vs Bhramansil Rauteko Jatiya Pahichan ra Paribartan[Ethnic Identity and Change of nomadic Raute].Pragya105:106-114.

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