The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

Typescript copy of extracts from letters from J.P. Mills to Mrs Pamela Mills (in England), 1936

caption: Construction of a fortified camp base; very friendly welcome at Chingmei; slavery
medium: letters
person: Smith/ Mr.Chingmak/ of Chingmei
location: Chingmei Pangsha
date: 20.11.1936
person: Mills/ J.P.
date: 1936
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Mills Ms.
text: (8) Camp Chingmei
text: November 20th, 1936
text: I took over the running of the coolies today, more or less, as far as camp work is concerned, and among 360 men there are many fools, as you can imagine. The first trouble was building the perimeter, which was badly done at first, the coolies really did not understand, it is so long since we had a show of this kind. We shall be in this camp for a long time and must make a particularly good one. Then a lot of men were cutting up meat when Retreat was sounded and the gate closed. They were late cutting up the meat because they were kept working late, and they were kept working late because they were slow and didn't understand these jobs. Finally, to put the lid on things, a sentry (as raw as the coolies) opened a gate again and men trooped out to get water in the dark, strictly against orders.
text: Smith added to the tale of petty annoyances by being asleep at the very time when he knew people would have to be interviewed. However, on the whole the day has been a great success.
text: We had an easy march. First we went up to a saddle at about 7,000 ft. and there an armed escort from Chingmei met us, as it is a notoriously bad place for ambushes.
text: A finer set of men I never hope to see. Then we went gently down to the village and were met by Chingmak, the Chief, on the way, a great personal friend of mine. We had a wonderful reception and everything in the world was done for us. We have a most magnificent camp site and eleven enormous houses built for us - I wish you could have seen them.
text: The most important thing is that Pangsha have surrendered three of the four slaves they took. The fourth is a small girl who has been sold three days' journey away in Burma and all I can do is to tell the Burma Government. Altogether we have five surrendered slaves now with us. A girl about 17 or 18, a boy about 12, two little boys and a little girl. All except the little boy are in a pretty bad way, and seem stupid with all they have been through. A very pathetic sight. I am having them fed on the best in the land and they are being treated with every kindness. Language is a real difficulty, as four of them are from up north and can't understand more than a word or two of Chang. The " slave girl" is not at all of the Arabian Nights kind. She is ugly, caked with dirt and has a goitre, but one can't take risks, so she is being chaperoned by Mrs. Chingmak. We went into Chingmei village for a little this morning on our way to this little camp a mile beyond.
text: Chingmak's little daughter aged 3 or 4 came straight to me and sat on my knee all the time I was in his house.
text: Though we are up at 6,000 ft. I feel fairly warm tonight. How I slept last night! - I never stirred till my early tea came at 5.30 a.m. Smith is more quiescent. He suddenly apologised at breakfast this morning for his bad temper hitherto, and we all looked as embarrassed as people do when someone makes a public apology.