An Interview with the Sangtam Tribe
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An Interview with the Sangtam Tribe

in Video
Published on: 05 December 2019

Tarini Manchanda

Tarini has made environmental films for WWF-India, the UN, PSBT and several NGOs. Her films have been pitched at Docedge India, and the Union Docs Summer Intensive in New York. She runs a filmmakers workshop called Docu Charcha for independent filmmakers. As a filmmaker and researcher, Tarini likes to take her camera to the mountains and listen to people’s stories.

An Interview with the Sangtam Tribe

The Sangtam tribe belongs to the Tuensang district in eastern Nagaland. Tuensang is located in the eastern part of Nagaland. It is bounded by Mon and Longleng Districts in the north and north east respectively, Mokokchung in the northwest, Zunheboto in the southwest, Kiphire in the south, and Myanmar in the east. The most common practice of agriculture is Jhum-Shifting cultivation. The main crops are Rice Maize, Millet, Kholar bean etc. During the 1870-1880’s the British survey team led by Woodthrope first entered the Northern Sangtam territory. When the Britishers asked the people about their tribe, they replied that they are the people who migrated from Sangdang (now Satami under Zunheboto District) which was their ancestral village. Thus the word Sangdang was interpreted as Sangtam by the Britishers.

As per the oral history, it may be mentioned that the name Sangdang village was derived from a traditional practice by the people, who use to live in elevated platform house called Sangdang meaning platform. As per oral history handed down through generation, Sangtams were also among the first group of people (now Nagas) who were brought from Mongolia to China and deployed in the construction of the Great Wall of China. –they then migrated to Myanmar and Nagaland.

In this interview conducted during the Hornbill Festival in 2018, the tribe’s cultural troupe exhibited their dresses, the materials used in the making of their clothes.

Video created by Tarini Manchanda, illustrations by Bhavya Kumar, text editing Ketan Kumar, ideation and support Neha Paliwal.