The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - 'Notes on the Wild Tribes Inhabiting the So-Called Naga Hills, on our North-East Frontier of India', by Col. R.G. Woodthorpe, 1881

caption: village government; headmen
medium: notes
person: Butler
ethnicgroup: Angami
person: Woodthorpe/ R.G.
date: 1881
refnum: given at a meeting of the Anthropological Institute, 1881
text: The Angamis, as indeed the Nagas in general, have no settled form of government. They are nominally under the orders of the headmen of their respective villages, who are chosen for their wealth, bravery, skill in diplomacy, powers of oratory, &c., but virtually every man does that which is right in his own eyes, and is a law unto himself, " a form of democracy" which, as Captain Butler (57) remarks, " it is difficult to conceive as existing for a single day, and yet that it does exist here is an undeniable fact. The orders of the headmen are obeyed so far only as they may happen to be in accord with the wishes of the community at large, and even then the minority will not hold themselves bound in any way by the wishes and acts of the majority. The Naga headman is simply 'primus inter pares', and often that only 'pro tem'." Theoretically, with the Angami every man is his own master, and avenges his own quarrel...