The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

unidentified published pieces

caption: extracts of a letter from a member of the survey party [Godwin-Austen]
caption: peace concluded
medium: tours
date: 3.2.1873
person: Godwin-Austen/ H.H.
date: 26.11.1872-4.4.1873
person: Royal Geographical Society, London
text: Early on the 3rd, Nagas, fully armed, many in their peculiar helmets, were collecting and surrounding the place, coming up from the south-east, concealing themselves behind rocks, about 500 yards off. Butler sent out the interpreters to call to them to come in, and after a great deal of shouting three of the chiefs did so. They were asked why they had attacked us. They said they thought we were going to treat them in the same way Gaziphimi &c had lately been. (I forgot to add that about half and hour after the village was fired, an object was seen by the sentries sneaking up to a house on the jungle flank. Three shots were fired, and it fell. Torches were taken forward cautiously; it proved to be an old woman, but what she was there for, we could not tell. She said she had no relations, and that when the last of the women left, she had hidden herself; that, hearing voices, she thought the villagers had returned, and so came in close. She had received a flesh-wound in the leg. They were taken to see the old woman and, to our surprise, taunted her and refused her a drink of the native liquor "zu" they carried in a gourd. They would not say much, and were told either to come in and make peace, but that if they meant fighting, to come on, and we should fire on any armed men who came in near. they then left, and a shot was fired from time to time, whenever they were seen sneaking in closer, and we spread further out round our position to overlook the ravines. About 12 o'clock unarmed men came forward again, and were allowed in. They asked for peace, and with four of the chiefs a fowl was sacrificed, the different members of its body being held by the two sides, and the head cut off with a sword. We decided then to march to Yemai, which we knew was unfriendly to them, and some men of that place being in camp to show the road, one of the chiefs was taken with us, partly as as hostage, for it was not improbable they might attempt an attack on our coolies as soon as our straggling line might get into the jungle and outside the village. By the time our rear guard left the place, the Lahupas came swarming in, and among them I noticed two women. When the headman of Ship-vo-mi saw the way we treated the villagers of Yemai, paying for all we got, he said over the fire that they had made a great mistake in meeting us in the way they did. It is very unfortunate that the late raid of the Munipuris had thus unsettled the people, and led to the destruction of another village; but it will have its good effect, and show these outside people that we are a different race and Government altogether.
text: They are perfectly ignorant of who we are, where we come from, and still more what we come for. The village had evidently been expecting a visit for some days, the large rice-bins had all been emptied, and the wicker baskets hidden in the jungle - an amount of work that could not have been got over in a few hours. Our police and the armed Kuki scouts from the Langteng colony behaved exceedingly well throughout. Of the former we had forty, and the latter fifteen. Four of the survey-men (old sepoys) had muskets, and ourselves (four Europeans) were each possessed of a breech-loader. A few of these armed, served out to the frontier police, would in a measure make up for the paucity of the numbers that are now entertained by Government.