The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - Chapter II, 'Detailed Report on the Naga Hills Expedition of 1879-80', Capt. P.J. Maitland

caption: head-hunting and inter-tribal warfare
medium: reports
ethnicgroup: Angami
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: From the reoccupation of Samaguting, and formation of the Naga Hills Distict, in 1866, up to the beginning of 1875, relations with the Nagas of all tribes appear to have been entirely satisfactory, save and except the total failure of every attempt to check the intertribal feuds, which continued to rage with unabated ferocity. The primary object, therefore, for which the Naga Hills District had been constituted, that of protecting peaceful inhabitants of British territory from the attacks of our savage subjects, was attained: but no progress was made in the work of civilising the Angamis themselves. It was not, indeed, to be expected that a few years of intercourse with British officers would so completely change the nature of the hillmen as to cause them to abandon their darling pursuit of head-getting, or to forego the sacred duty of avenging blood. Nevertheless, it was clearly seen by the officials most concerned that so long as blood-thirsty warfare between the various clans continued, it was (17) only by good luck, and the exercise of great care and firmness, that the Nagas could be prevented from turning their spears against ourselves. The rapid acquisition of firearms by the more warlike communities was also fast becoming a source of possible danger.
text: To show the extent to which the habit of slaughtering each other was carried on among the Angami Nagas, the Chief Commissioner reported that from 1st April 1874 to 31st March 1876 thirteen raids had been committed, in which six villages were burnt and plundered, and two hundred and thirty five persons killed. (Assam Administration Report, 1874-75 and 1875-76.) This is at the rate of ten known murders a month among the Angamis alone. The Chief Commissioner feared, however, that until these outrages were repressed with a strong hand, and the savages began to understand that certain retribution would be exacted by the paramount power for such lawless aggressions, there was little hope of their cessation. At the same time he had reason to believe that "the forcible suppression of these interminable wars and blood feuds, by an irresistible external authority, would be gladly acquiesced in by these tribes, and a state of peace, at first forcibly imposed, would soon be recognised as convenient, and preferable to continual exposure to attacks."