August 16, 2015

The nomadic Raute people of Nepal


≥≤ Sagarmatha Dispatch-Gazette ≥≤

In western Nepal, a group of the Raute people still follow an ancient nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life, staying in one place for a few weeks, then moving on. The trek through monsoon forests at altitudes of 2,000-8,000ft may take 12 years, to cover the full 12,000 square mile territory of the Karnali and Kali river drainages.

Typical of Nepal’s amalgam of cultures, but uniquely so, Raute people perform music and communal dancing, among the group and to communicate with people along the way.

Each succeeding encampment of huts and tents is a new temporary village. Work and activity begins at dawn and lasts into mid evening, with water-carrying, fire building, cooking, woodcrafting for barter, hunting, foraging, and trading with local people.

Raute tradition is to limit contact with anyone outside the group to a few weeks. In recent years some long term relationships were formed with researchers and UN development workers, culminating in talks with the Nepal government toward sustaining nomadic Raute life.

No guns, and few modern technologies are used to hunt langurs and macaques and to harvest wild yams and forest roots and berries.

Traditionally, names are not given, but may arise situationally, and changing from time to time.

Sometimes the group of 180 splits into two, traveling separately for several months, then reuniting. This helps spread the load on natural resources, with resulting better nutrition and a smaller footprint in the local social landscape. The split also allows time for disagreements to settle out.

Dance is the signature of Raute people’s attitude and way of life, an enaction of unity with each other, nature, and God.


Dance is for God: Expressive Culture among the Forest-Dwelling Raute of Nepal – Jana Fortier

“The meaning of a dance shifts as it is felt by each of the dancers. In this sense, there is both the individual’s experiential knowledge of a dance, and also a way of knowing the dance that is communally shared.”

About Raute‬ video documentary – United Nations (30m03s)

“Don’t you find it hard to live in the jungle?”

“You’d have found it difficult but we enjoy it the way it is.”

Rautes (organization)
“Raute have a spectacular tradition of carving wooden receptacles”

The Raute: Notes on a nomadic hunting and gathering tribe of Nepal – Johan Reinhard

“Among the many tree types to be found in this area are pine, fir, juniper, oak, spruce, elm, cedar, birch and various species of bamboo. Several species of the Dioscorea yam and various fruits and berries are fairly abundant. Deer, mountain goats, monkeys, jackals, porcupines, bears and other animals inhabit the middle hills. Birds include hawks, doves, forest chickens, pheasants, crows and vultures.”