Sri Lanka's Coastal Veddas
In June 1994-5 the Cultural Survival Trust undertook an on-the-spot survey to determine where coastal Vedda hamlets are located and approximate populations. CST volunteers walked 85 kilometres from Mutur to Valaichchenai, speaking in Tamil with local coastal Vedda villagers who provided estimates of their numbers in these villages:
Other known Vedda hamlets on the East Coast (mostly north of Batticaloa):
In June 2002 a contingent of 40 Veddas walked on the Pada Yatra foot pilgrimage with Patrick Harrigan from Mutur to Kataragama. The conditions had not changed significantly since the survey of 1994.
Most of the Veddas were herded into coastal Refugee Camps in Government controlled regions during the late 80's and early 90's. The largest camp is Mankerny. These Vedda folk populated the interior as well as the coast from Mutur to as far south as Valaichchenai. Today they have been displaced from their ancestral hamlets. They still gather honey when possible but no longer hunt because their guns were confiscated in the 1980's by the Government.
Coastal Veddas say they would like to return to their ancestral hamlets and traditional livelihoods, but cannot do so because they would lose benefits that are available to them in settled areas. Any rehabilitation programme must first take these factors into consideration.
East Coast Veddas: Caught between two worlds
Seligmann & Seligmann's 1911 account of East Coast Veddas
Sinhala-Tamil Nationalism and Sri Lanka's East Coast Veddas
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