There are different accounts of their origins, though their history can be traced back over twelve centuries. They came into extensive contact with the country's Han Chinese majority almost one thousand years ago, but it was only in the past century that the Tujia's native culture began to disappear as a result of acculturation and assimilation. Today there are only 20-30 thousand speakers of the Tujia language, the vast majority of the Tujia using Chinese or, less extensively, Miao. Today, traditional Tujia customs can only be found in the most remote areas.
The Tujia are renowned for their singing and song composing abilities and for their tradition of the Baishou hand dance, a 500 year old collective dance which uses 70 ritual gestures to represent war, farming, hunting, courtship and other aspects of traditional life.