The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

Typescript, J.P. Mills, Tour Diary, March 1927, with comments by Ursula Betts, 1986

caption: Visit to Semkhor village, and friendly reception; incipient land crisis; need for medical aid
medium: tours
person: Bell/ Mr
ethnicgroup: NzemiKacharis
location: Semkhor Guilong Haflong Khonoma Khangnam
date: 6.3.1927
person: Betts/ UrsulaMills/ J.P.
date: 3.1927
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: 6th.
text: To Semkhor 6 miles. A steep drop down and then an up and down path over the spurs of the main range. There is an ancient and difficult land dispute to be settled between Guilong and Semkhor. The land round here is heavily jhumed and both villages are short. Terraced cultivation would relieve the pressure and the spurs over which we went are ideal for the purpose. If I can get a grant for this Subdivision this is one of the places where the money ought to be used if the villages will take it up. Little patches near Haflong are no use to anyone.
text: [UGB: Here is the first official glimpse of the land-crisis in North Cachar's Nzemi area. See Naga Path and Village Organization among the Central Nzemi Nagas.]
text: Semkhor is the "mystery village" of these hills. They claim to be Kacharis (7) of sorts, but they are certainly not. No one even seems to have described them, so to avoid over-burdening this diary with details I will write a separate note on them.
text: They have the reputation of being suspicious of strangers, but they gave us an exceptionally hearty welcome. One old man insisted on walking about with his arm round my waist (or rather it would have been my waist had he not been very much shorter than I was), and came up and thumped me at intervals during the day. The village is in a very strong position on a spur with steep sides. Nevertheless Khonoma once raided it and took 50 heads.
text: I was besieged with people wanting medicine, which unfortunately, I had not got with me. More medical attention is badly needed. There is not a single dispensary in the Subdivision, except along the railway. One is badly wanted with a Naga Sub-Assistant Surgeon on this side and one with Kachari Sub-Assistant Surgeon on the other. Even the vaccinators do not do their work and only visit these villages once in two or three years.
text: [UGB: This was still the case in 1940/6. The vaccinators still did not do their work (see Naga Path, re Khangnam.) The Army doctor provided by V Force and the medicine available from the Army were an inestimable blessing. Even before then, it was quite amazing how much a little iodine and quinine could do.]
text: Mr Bell checked the Mauzadar's figures for Semkhor and found them correct.