Published in Communities, Institutions and Histories of India’s Northeast.

By Dan Seng Lawn.

At the outset it will be proper to trace the etymological development of the names, Kachin and Singpho. The uncertainty of the meaning of the name gives rise to multiple meanings. From the last part of the eighteenth century onwards, there was a growing rivalry between Britain and France in Southeast Asia. King Thibaw, the last king of Mranma, during his rule faced multiple problems – rebellions, banditries, chaos, and civilian movements to southern Burma, which was under British control. The Singphos of Hunkaung Valley and Assam also acted as a buffer between the Mranma Kingdom and Ahom Kingdom: when they maintained neutrality, peace flourished in the borders, but when they tilted towards one side, war was inevitable. The reasons why the Singphos and the Kachins, though they are one and the same people, are considered transnational ethnic groups can be traced back to the colonial era.