Indigenous Peoples by any other name, the Velip are one of seven Scheduled Tribes in Goa, India’s smallest state.
There isn’t much information available on the Velip beyond a few sentences on tourism websites about how ‘friendly’ they are.
The Velip’s homeland today has been restricted to various tribal hamlets in and around the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in Cancona, southern Goa. The overall population of Cotigao is about four thousand people.
The Velips are currently battling the Forest Department for the right to use their ancestral lands, which they use to cultivate cashews—the Velip’s primary source of income.
The Velips say that the Forest Department turned their land into a wildlife sanctuary so it can move them out and eventually hand the land over to mining companies. Indeed, there are robust deposits of valuable minerals in the area.
In June of 2011, two young Velip leaders were killed after taking part in a massive protest to safeguard their rights.