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: American Baptist missions
caption: effects on Naga culture
medium: diaries
location: Kohima
date: 29.8.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: Such choral practice, I fear, is symbolic of the Missions' attitude to Naga culture. As Naga life is closely integrated, dress, dancing, singing and amusements are all linked up with religion. The Mission attack on religion inevitably leads to a condemnation of all these appendages. The Naga is thus being robbed of his colourful dress and ornaments, his proud carved houses, his songs and dances, and all the festivals which break the monotony of a hard agricultural life. The communal life of the village is also breaking down and many Christians seem to think that they are now free from the responsibilities of communal social service. Apart from a few exceptional cases, nothing positive has grown up in place of the old religion; only a new set of taboos has been substituted - the Christian must not drink, he must not lift a finger on Sundays, he must not do this or that. Worst of all, Christianity leads to an unintelligent adoption of western ways which have no relevance to an agrarian community. Suits, hats, shorts and blouses take the place of the old clothes which were both beautiful and hygienic. Manual labour is despised and clerical work is the goal of life. Even the unconverted are affected; their old (60) beliefs are weakened and they are plunged into a limbo with no beliefs of any kind. In all my journey through the hills, the drabbest, and dreariest men and women in the village are Christians.