The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - 'Report of the Survey Operations in the Naga Hills 1875-1876' by Lt. R.G. Woodthorpe

caption: Naga Hills - Burma border determined by geographical rather than tribal factors
medium: tours
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1875-1876
text: 58. With reference to a first boundary between the Naga Hills and Burmah, I am of opinion that it will have to be decided by geographical limits. The distinctions between the different tribes are so slight (except as between the Angamis, Eastern and Western, and all other tribes), and their villages are so mixed up together, that I doubt very much if tribal limits could ever be successfully adopted without going very far east. The Eastern Angamis extend across the watershed for some distance, but, in common with all other Nagas, they are not restricted by any geographical considerations, and are frequently building new villages and deserting old ones, so that a tribal boundary would be a very variable quantity; at one time, to put an extreme case, it might be well within the watershed, at another considerably beyond it. Apropos of this question, I may quote a passage from the appendix to Captain Butler's Report of 1873-74: "These various tribes all dovetail into each other in a most remarkable manner, and it is impossible to assign to them any hard-and-fast limits, or to say that beyond certain limits a tribe does not extend; for not only do we often find men from two or even three tribes living in the same village" (see paragraph 17, Appendix C), "but in many cases villages belonging to the same tribe are separated from each other by those of several other tribes." These words are as true of the tribes lately visited as of those I then wrote about. A very careful study of the characteristics of each tribe would further be necessary in assigning tribal limits to the boundary. I regret that I was unable to get further ethnological and philological notes concerning the new tribes we visited this year; but, even if I had had the time, the total absence of interpreters would have rendered it impossible to make them.