|Adivasi means „first
inhabitants“. It refers to the indigenous peoples of India and adjacent
countries. Following the Indo-Aryan immigration (1500 BC until 500 BC) their
ancestors were forced to withdraw to remote forest and hill areas. In these
isolated areas they were able to preserve their traditional way of life –
partly even until today.
In the course of centuries the
immigrants established the caste system in order to safeguard their
supremacy. The adivasi are not part of the caste system – they are
“outcastes” and thus at the bottom of mainstream society. At the beginning
of the 20th century political leaders of the indigenous people
coined the Sanskrit-/Hindi-term “adivasi”, which is widely used today.