The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

printed - Tour Diary of the Deputy Commissioner, Naga Hills 1870 (John Butler) volume one

caption: visit to Meekir villages; house tax; large families
medium: tours
ethnicgroup: MeekirCacharee
date: 9.1.1870
person: Butler/ John
date: 5.1.1870-30.3.1870
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 9th January, Sunday. Wishing to see some thing of the Meekir Tribes which lay within my jurisdiction which had not been visited by any European for many years. I moved camp to the North West and halted at the village of Bonlong having come about 16 miles. The road was much better than usual owing to its leading through the sites of old deserted jhooms on which the long grass had been burned down leaving patches of open in which I was rather surprised to come across Black Partridge.
text: In the afternoon I walked through the village and visited several of the Meekir houses which are invariably built on a huge platform raised on piles, either of timber or bamboo, some 10 to 15 feet from the ground and with the supports crossing in every direction; these structures though simple have a very picturesque appearance and vary much in size according to the number of families to be accommodated under one roof for its by no means uncommon to find a whole family of three generations numbering from 20 to 30 souls all living in the one house. This herding together is I believe solely on account of the house-tax and as the tax falls most unequally upon the different classes I should be glad to see it abolished and a pole tax substituted in lieu. We [2] have here a state of civilization in its most primitive form where every individual being in a family represents not so much an extra mouth to fill as an extra pair of hands to work with a consequently [sic] so much extra wealth to the family to which he belongs. The larger the family therefore the better is it able to pay its quota towards the revenue and equally the demand on the part of Government should be in just proportion to the wealth of the family or in other words to the number of working hands in the family but our present system seems in this instance to ignore all question of right and justice and blindly demands the same sum from the Cacharee his wife and children as from the Meekir and his wife, their children and their wives and their children's children.