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: tour in Chang country
caption: education and the use of English
medium: diaries
date: 22.10.1947
person: Archer/ Mildred
date: 9.7.1947-4.12.1947
text: As regards higher education the problem is more complicated. The Naga languages cannot as yet be a subject for higher studies as no written literature exists. English is at present the medium of instruction but all over the rest of India it is gradually being abolished and made a second or third language. In Assam there is a strong movement to abolish English in favour of Assamese and the Nagas fear that the plainsmen may try and extend it to the hills. For the Nagas English and the Roman script is in no way connected with the British Raj but has become a symbol of their independence from Assam. The Naga fear is not ungrounded. Today there is a letter in the Assam Tribune which says, 'As regards the hill people let us induce the literates among them who are few in number to adopt the script of the plains' people. The Roman script is (115) very difficult to learn.....' This letter urges the Assamese to use their own old script and scoffs at the suggestion, which had been made by an earlier correspondent, that the Roman script should be used by the Assamese. 'But actually the Assamese people had their own script coming down from the 7th century A.D. as evidenced by regal documents etched on copper plates, inscriptions on rocks and temples and by the noble edifice of literature penned on Sanchi barks. This script which has been used by generations of Assam people for the last twelve centuries is as much a part of our cultural heritage as the language itself, and of which we ought to be proud. To give it up for the European script is to rank ourselves with the aborigines.' The scorn in which the Assamese hold the hill-people reveals itself in that final sentence.
text: It is largely because of their hatred of the Assamese and their language and a fear that it will be imposed on them that the Nagas wish to keep the control of education in their own hands.