The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Journey to Nagaland', by Mildred Archer. An account of six months spent in the Naga Hills in 1947

caption: British Colonial administration in the Naga Hills
caption: first news of Indian independence
medium: diaries
location: Kohima
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: Unlike the tribal people of Bihar, the Nagas had a variety of local styles of carving and Bill intended to study Naga art, tribe by tribe, and produce a solid sequel to his study of primitive Indian sculpture, The Vertical Man. That at any rate was how the future had seemed in the summer of 1946. However, as Bill steamed back to India in November, the news had suddenly broken on board ship that in August 1947 India would become Independent. The date was nothing if not firm and as the announcement filtered through to all the other members of the I.C.S. who were also on their way back, the implications were anxiously debated and appraised. Was this the end? Were they facing instant dismissal? On what terms would their contracts be terminated? Could they stay on in India? Would the new India want them? Would they themselves relish employment by India? To such questions there were no immediate answers but for the moment each officer must act as though nothing had happened. Bill had been 'lent' to Assam and it was therefore to Assam that he would go. Arriving in Shillong he was no wiser or clearer on what the future might hold. Terms of retirement had not been announced nor had the policies of various State Governments been formulated. For all he knew Bill might still be able to spend three years in Assam. He therefore began his work on that basis. Posted to Kohima in the first instance, he at once set himself to mastering Naga-Assamese, the lingua franca of the hills, - indeed the only language by means of which the highly varied tribes could communicate between themselves or with the Government officers.