The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - memoir of time in the Naga Hills as a Deputy Commissioner, 1919-1920

caption: administration in the Naga Hills
caption: Angami's clan system and the establishment of 'Government headmen'
medium: articles
ethnicgroup: Angami
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: A trouble in the Angami group was that the headmen in their villages had no judicial authority in pre-British days and no fixed body of elders. Hereditary headmen existed but they had no powers. The clans in a village lived in separate areas and had their own headmen. In pre-British days crime such as murder or theft was punished by fines or by banishment from the village. Failure to observe a taboo (penna) was punished with a fine. The people of the clan assembled and the headman sat with some leading men and decided according to communal feeling. The headmen appointed for each village by the British Government have no separate powers of their own. Their duty is to collect a house tax and to supply porters to touring officers and inform the villagers of the orders of Government. As much Home Rule as possible was encouraged in the villages but the Angami is litigious and can never be persuaded that he is in the wrong so he would resist any efforts at settlement made in the clan or perhaps refuse to pay any penalty and would have recourse to the Court of the Deputy Commissioner. Hutton on his return took cases at headquarters more freely than I did as he knew much more about the proper way to deal with them. The clans lived in separate areas in Angami villages and were originally exogamous, marriage within the clan being forbidden, but this rule had become relaxed, much to the disgust of the more conservatively minded, and some marriages of this kind did take place but not between families connected by kinship.