Raute people

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

Raute are a nomadic Tibeto-Burman ethnic group officially recognized by the Government of Nepal. They are known for subsistence hunting of langur and macaque monkeys. They gather wild forest tubers, fruits, and greens on a regular basis. To obtain grain, iron, cloth, and jewelry, they carve wooden bowls and boxes to trade for goods from 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. Most have been forcibly settled by the government of Nepal but there are about 150 nomadic Raute.

The Raute language is classified as Tibeto-Burman. It is called "Raute" in most studies and sometimes "Khamci," meaning "our talk" in a few other studies. 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.

Founding Principles[edit]

The Raute people emphasize that their continued existence is based on three principles:

  • Remain nomadic.
  • Continue their own native culture, language, and education.
  • Remain hunter-gatherers

Sources[edit]

  • 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 (232pp);
  • Fortier, Jana 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.;
  • 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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