The Adivasi society in general is not underdeveloped society as it is generally understood. In fact, it is an inevitable stage of social development. There is nothing romantic or apologetic about it. It is a reality and it should be recognised as such.
Up till now the culture of the Adivasis or the Scheduled tribes of Jharkhand shows clearly that major tribes of this region such as Munda, Oraon, Santhal, Ho, Kharia, Chero etc. They had developed a socio-economic, political and cultural pattern of their own. They enjoyed autonomy, freedom and happiness. They had full control over the land and forest they possessed. They did not pay rent to any one. They had organised an inter-tribal loose confederation among themselves to safeguard their territory and to promote peace and happiness. They had their language, literature (folk literature of course) and a culture, in no case inferior to any other culture. Till the advent of the British colonist into this region, the cultural identity of the indigenous people was relatively consolidated. It was in the right process of the formation of a nationality of their own. This phenomenon can be identified easily in the traditions, customs and oral history of the people residing here since centuries.
Main ingredients of the cultural identity of the indigenous people of Jharkhand were love towards nature, physical labour, truthfulness, simplicity, equality, non-aggressiveness, non-dogmatism, music, collective dance, hunting etc.. These are the inevitable responses of the simple social structure surrounded by colourful hills and forests of the region.
This cultural identity of the tribal society of Jharkhand had to face the wrath of the exploitative colonial rule of the British. The Permanent Settlement (1773), Sale Law, and the Rent Act (1859) introduced by the British had a devastating effect on the socio-economic structure of the tribal society.
In turn it eroded the norms and values of the tribal life. To mend this loss, on the other hand, Missionisation and Sanskritisation, i.e assimilation process started, which complicated the situation all the more. It was the root cause of a series of social, political and cultural revival movements among the tribes of this region. They became restless because their identity was in danger.
This situation has not changed as yet, rather it is more vicious today. With the wave of heavy industries, massive mining projects, gigantic dams, brutal deforestation and uncongenial development programmes people from different parts of the country are immigrating here with different cultures and motives. The indigenous people, their economic resources and cultural values are being uprooted. Now not only their identity, but their existence itself is in danger.
(source : 'Cultural Jharkhand : Problems and Prospects' by Dr. B.P. Keshari).