Although the Chinese authorities have placed the Hkauri under the official Jingpo nationality, they possess a different ethnicity and speak a distinct language from other Jingpo groups. In Myanmar, the Hkauri's claims as a separate tribe have recently been acknowledged. The various branches of the Kachin in Myanmar are encouraged to profess unity as one people. Different claims of ethnicity are seen as a sign of weakness, especially by the leaders of the Kachin Independence Army. The fact remains, however, that the Hkauri have their own name and language. Somewhat surprisingly, the present government of Myanmar acknowledges the Hkauri as one of that nation's 135 ethnic groups.
According to Hkauri legends and folklore, their first ancestor was named Ning Gawn Wa. He was also involved with the creation of the earth. Later, he married an alligator. "Their great grandson, Wahkyet Wa, became the progenitor of the Jingpos. Of Wahkyet Wa's numerous sons (traditions as to the number of his wives vary from three to thirty), the five eldest sons of his first wife ... became the founders of the five major Jingpo clans," including the Hkauri.
The Hkauri claim they migrated to their present location from a place far to the north known as Majoi Shingra Bum (Naturally Flat Mountain). A number of researchers have suggested all the Jingpo peoples once lived on the Tibetan or Qinghai Plateau in China. The Hkauri are a hardy, warrior type of people, yet are extremely friendly to outsiders.
The majority of Hkauri in both Myanmar and China today are Christians. Before their conversion they were animists, worshiping and appeasing a host of different deities and gods.
Baptist missionary Josiah Cushing started work in the Hkauri area in 1876, although missionary Eugenio Kincaid had first passed through northern Burma in the 1830s. The Jingpo Bible is used by Hkauri Christians, but there may be a need for them to have the Scriptures in their own language.