Probably the first recorded used of the name “Kuki” appeared in the History of Tripura as early as 1512 AD . During the reign of Tripura Raja Dhanya Manikya (around 1490 AD), it was pointed out that, wild race called Kukees live Thannangchi Forest of Tripura. Yet the origin of the word itself is most obscure. The colonial historians divided the Zomi under two names, i.e. the “Kuki” and the “Lushai”. This was clearly demonstrated in the writing of Rawlins. In his paper published in the Asiatic Research Vol. II, p.12 he called the people “Cucis” or “Mountaineers from Tipra” by adopting the name used by the Bengali and Assamese when reffering to the Zomi of Chittagong Hill Trace and Tripura Hills. Colonel John Shakespear clubbed them together and called them “the Lushai-Kuki Clans”. He even included most of the hill tribes of the Lushai Hills, parts of Manipur, North Cachar Hills, and Tripura, who have the same cultural affinity, customs and mode of living. In this he was supported by the British statesmen, ethnographers and linguists. On the other hand, he was also fully aware that the words “Kuki” and “Lushai” were not accepted by the people to whom the name applied. In fact, there never was such a word as “Kuki” in the vocabulary of any of the Zomi dialects. It is neither a clan name nor family name. The Lushai too were averse to the name Kuki. In the meantime William Shaw wrote a book on the Thadou Kuki and he tried to put all the people of the group under the racial nomenclature of Thadou Kukis. All the other tribes, except the Thadou speaking and those willing to call themselves Kuki, do not accept it at all. It has instead now become a bone of contention among the two- the Thadou and the Kuki, which is exemplified by the existence of Association/ Organisations like KSO, TSA, TKSU, TTC, etc. It is known that they even submitted a memorandum to the Government of Manipur to ban the book.
The anti-Kuki stand of the various Tribes of Manipur was further strengthened by the resolution of a meeting held on the 26th June,1942 in which they expressed their desire not to identify themselves as Kuki.