There are authorized forms of migration that construct the privileged figure of the migrant as aspiring citizen in opposition to the aberrant figure of the lazy, unassimilable refugee. In South Asia, the ideal form of migration was of religious pilgrimage and it was in these terms that the Partition refugee was understood. Thus, the Hindi term sharanarti for Hindu and Sikh refugees called attention to the act of granting refuge (from the Sanskrit sharan). Urdu speaking Muslim migrants were known as muhajir, alluding to the hijrat of the Prophet from Mecca. Indian officials lauded the assimilation of the Punjabi peasants who fled to India in the wake of Partition. Bangla-speaking low caste peasants from East Bengal were viewed less favorably. From 1947 up to the Bangladesh War of 1971, the Indian government worked to settle refugees from East Bengal in Dandakaranya forest amongst indigenous Gonds as part of the Dandakaranya Project (established 1958). In newly independent India, colonial science and racism were reworked by the post-colonial state as it pitted desperate refugees from East Bengal against tribal nomads, privileging the former’s mobility in order to further the exploitation of the latter. Implicit in the post-colonial state’s assumption was the contempt for the local Gonds’ indigenous knowledge of specific ecologies and how to live sustainably on what the government from colonial times had designated waste or marginal lands. This paper examines the triangulation in post-colonial India of the ideal refugee, the “lazy” refugee and the nomadic indigene.