The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts on the Nagas from 'Census of India, 1931 - Volume III - Assam Report'

caption: Appendix A. The effect on the tribes of the Naga Hills district of Contacts with civilization, by J.P. Mills, I.C.S
caption: effect on culture by missionaries
medium: reports
person: Mullan/ C.S.Mills/ J.P.
date: 1931
text: Realising that on the preservation of customs developed exactly to fit the environment and tested by centuries of use depends the whole fabric to tribal society. Government has been at pains to preserve them to the utmost limit possible and to ensure that such change as must inevitably come shall not be destructive in its suddenness. In strong contrast has been the attitude of the American Baptist Mission. As religion plays a part in every Naga ceremony and as that religion is not Christianity every ceremony must go. Such ceremonies as the great Feasts of Merit, at which the whole village, rich and poor alike, is entertained, and of which the religious aspect is far less important than the social, have not been remodelled on Christian lines, but have been utterly abolished among converts. This has been the fate, too, of all village sacrificial feasts. The place of these is not adequately taken by small parties meeting to drink tea. The suppression among Baptists of the ancient feasts in which all joined is not only a loss to the would-be hosts, but to the village as a whole, and not least to the poor, who always get their full share of good cheer at Animist festivals. To abolish these feasts is to do away with the very few occasions on which the awful monotony of village life is broken. They are, too, the natural Naga and Kuki way of distributing wealth. I have heard a Baptist teacher boast that his granaries were so full of the store of years that some of the grain was black with age. Had he been an Animist that grain would not have been left to rot uselessly but would have been eaten by his fellow villagers.