The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript 'Village Organization Among the Central Nzemi Nagas', M.A. thesis by Ursula Betts

caption: Chapter six: Cycle migration
caption: famines and rice shortages; malaria
caption: pressure from the Kukis
medium: theses
ethnicgroup: NzemiKuki <BieteKuki <RangkholKuki <Thado
location: Asalu Asalu
date: 19201934
person: Betts/ U.V.
date: 1950
refnum: M.A. thesis, University College, London
note: footnotes indicated by boxes within square brackets
text: About the year 1920 there was a bad harvest at Asalu and famine followed. In the ensuing years the rice-crop failed to rise to the same volume as before the famine and there was a gradual decline in yield. Throughout the 19th century and during the early years of the 20th Asalu had had an annual rice-surplus which was sold or exchanged in Mahur market, but this now ceased to be the case. Certain tracts of Asalu's agricultural land were now producing increasingly poor crops, and the acreage which retained its fertility was steadily decreasing; the land had been cropped to exhaustion and was no longer capable of supporting the community, although (129) this now numbered only some 55 houses. By 1934 a number of villagers in the Asalu community were dissatisfied with the food position at the Asalu site and with the high incidence of malaria and the high rate of infant mortality, for which malaria was largely responsible. [7 [Record T86864]
text: But since the last move in the Asalu cluster's migration-cycle there had been a major change in the political and economic position in the Central Nzemi area. In the first years of the 19th century Biete and Rangkhol Kukis had reached North Cachar from the south-east and had settled thinly on the plateau west of the Diyung River. In 1850 a large body of Thado Kukis entered from the same direction. They were at first tolerated by the Nzemi, who did not regard them as permanent settlers and welcomed their aid in repulsing Angami attack. Although the headquarters station was established at Asalu (130) in 1855, the protection afforded by this and by other outposts was not effective, and the Thado Kukis were encouraged by the authorities to settle west of Maibong to form a protective screen between North Cachar and the Angamis. When permanent village boundaries were laid down by the Government the Kuki settlements in the Central Nzemi area were necessarily given land excised from the heram-rai of Nzemi villages, and in many cases Kuki villages were situated on 'fallow' Nzemi sites. This caused considerable resentment among the Central Nzemi, both against the Kukis and against the Government.