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: to Mozemah; Butler refuses request to attack Sopvemah but offers to adjudicate; philosophy of maintaining authority; possibility of taking lands into Government hands; constant feuding
medium: tours
location: Mozemah Saovenu-chikah Mt. Sopvemah Khonomah
date: 9.2.1870
person: Butler/ John
date: 5.1.1870-30.3.1870
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 9th February, Wednesday. A distance of about l2 miles, brought us into Mozemah. The road was very bad in parts and we had to come over two very stiff ascents after which the path led along the side of the Saovenu-chikah mountain where for a distance of some 2 miles it was hewn out of the solid rock overlooking a precipice at most perpendicular for several hundred feet. On entering the village I found a great gathering assembled to meet me and the Peumahs presented me with fowls and rice saying they were all very glad I had come among them and hoped I would stay at least a week or ten days or as long as I liked. I told them I was very much pleased at having received so hearty a welcome from them and nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to have been able to stay some days longer at their village but that on this occasion I was unable to do so as I had promised to meet the Political Agent from Munneepore and did not wish that he should be kept waiting for me. After this they asked me whether I would aid them in an attack on Sopvemah with whom they informed me they had an old blood feud and on my telling them that I should most certainly not aid them, and indeed that I was very sorry and angry to hear that they contemplated making any such attack they replied that as I was the stronger power they would of course have to obey me but that the Sopvemah men had killed a man of Mozemah some years ago and it was absolutely incumbent on them to obtain their revenge. I then explained to them how much better it would be for both villages to bring their quarrel before me and I would adjudicate between them but as they did not seem to see the matter in the same light I considered it best quietly to change the subject for on the one hand although personally almost certain that had I authoritatively ordered them to abstain from further bloodshed I should have been obeyed, yet on the other hand they might possibly have disobeyed me in which case it would have been absolutely necessary to visit them with the severest punishment or there would at once have been an end to my authority, for I hold that the great secret of ruling these tribes is to be most careful to issue no order, obedience to which I am not in a position to enforce and as non-interference is the order of the day. I am unwillingly forced to leave matters in status quo - but I am confident circumstances will arise sooner or later which will force us to take the Government of this fine tract of country entirely into our own hands and put a stop to the rapine and bloodshed that is going on around us. At the present moment (about 8 p.m.) whilst I am writing I can hear firing going on on the opposite hill, between the rival clans of Khonomah.