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| Last Updated:: 23/02/2017

Conservation of forest resources by Aka tribes










The Aka, also known as Hrusso, are found in the Thrizino (cultural hub), Bhalukpong (commercial hub), Buragaon, Jamiri, Palizi, Khuppi area in West Kameng of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Their language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family. As far as its name is concerned, the word Aka has an indigenous origin and it means 'painted', thus symbolizing their culture of applying paints on their face and that too vividly. This unique manner of painting has become a trademark of this Aka tribal community. 





The Akas have their own indigenous knowledge system useful in the conservation of forest resources. Numerous species of plants are not extracted from the forests. Similarly, some animals are neither killed nor eaten by these people. They spare the immature and pregnant animal in the forests. Small saplings of certain plants are not destroyed. Only required plant parts are collected from the nearby forests. As such, these people have developed an eco-friendly relation with the surrounding forest ecosystem.





Forest and forest products have great impact on the culture and economy of the people and all the activities of the people revolve round the forests. Agriculture (jhum or shifting cultivation) and other associated activities like construction, implements, utensils, hunting, fishing and food-gathering have a direct link with their forests. Their diet includes various types of vegetables, fruits and nuts, hunted animals and materials from the forests. The social customs, beliefs, faiths tradition, etc. of the people reflect deep imprint of the nearby forests. Probably, it is the realization of their ancestors that they worship the forests as feeder (Thou) and rearer (Gew) to human beings.




Sacred groves (Nowu-Husu Yiew)




To Akas, the Nowu-Husu yiew means the forestland and ponds/ lakes, which are believed to be sacred and have vital significance to the mankind is used as substitute to term, sacred groves. The trees which bear a distinct character are protected. It is strongly believed that any sort of interference to such grove would lead to the death of a person involved. Further, they believe the presence of some unseen supernatural power, ubro or ubram in such grove. As such, these areas remained free from human interference. The area is characterized with hilly terrain and covered with a dense forest. Akas worship the forests as Thouw-gew, meaning one who nurses and the one who feeds. They also worship the mountains and rivers as Huda kuwuow phuda kuwuow; worship the nature and there are some areas at Palizi village, Nechiphu, etc. which are considered as sacred groves. Visiting and extraction of any kind of material from such groves are strictly prohibited because of its linkage with beliefs and myths.




The following places are believed as sacred points by Akas:




Mountain Vojo phu




The sacred mountain is considered as the highest mountain peak in the Aka area. Extraction of forest materials, collection of stones, hunting, etc. from the mountain is strictly prohibited. A saying goes, one, who plucks at mountain will lose the way and will bleed to death. This belief of the people is so strong that even today; no one dares to visit the mountain. Such beliefs have either directly or indirectly helped in the conservation of various forest products of the area.




Pond Nearma Husu





The pond is located near the Nechiphu pass, which is about 1,524 m above mean sea level. The pond is situated on the top of mountain and has preponderance of betel nut tree and betel leaves plants. These people worship at the pond but plucking of any leaves near this pond is prohibited. The belief, one who plucks would never return home, and would keep returning here. The extraction of forest resources from such sacred groves in any form is restricted for every individual throughout the area. There are innumerable myths, songs, folktales, proverbs, etc. regarding divine creations and existence of the forest resources. A song Asi fokiyo is related to a bird, named Asi foki and its contribution to existence of human beings. A folktale, known as chicho fumoji is related to the evolution of a flower, etc. Besides, some areas, such as Jyopsinfo at Prizin, Nyezowoh at Jamiri, Paliri-Kunumro at Palizi, etc. are being preserved and have become places of worship