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: false alarm when Naga coolies attempt to bolt in the dark; Kekreemah fears attack by British; Butler's refusal to become involved in village feuds causes Nagas to wonder what benefits paying revenue will bring; Maniporis return revenue
medium: tours
person: Brown/ DrJeveel/ of Jatsomah
location: Kekreemah Keedeemah Sokhabomah Koheemaa Khonomah Mazemah
date: 21.2.1870
person: Butler/ John
date: 5.1.1870-30.3.1870
note: inaccurate spelling in the original text
text: 21st February, Monday. Had an absurd false alarm last night. We had just finished our dinner and were quietly sitting down smoking our pipes when we heard a confused hum of voices (before precursor of something going wrong) coming from the right, the position held by the Muneepoarees, and suddenly a Muhepooree sepoy rushed into the hut apparently in a great fright and said something to Dr. Brown which he translated as "the hill men are coming". Of course this was quite enough. I seized my sword and pistol and rushed out, assembled my men and eagerly awaited the result which turned out to be nothing at all. The confusion and uproar in the manipoories camp only arising from a number of their Naga coolies attempting to bolt, under cover of a night that was so dark it was impossible to see a yard in front, and it was some of these unfortunates that had been taken for the enemy by the excited and elastic imagination of our friend who brought the news that "the hill men were coming".
text: In the course of the day I received a message from Kekreemah through Jereel of Jatsomah who happened to visit that village to purchase some cows. He informed me that the Kekreemah Nagas were very anxious to be on good terms with me and would have like to have come in to pay their respects but that they were unable to do so owing to their being at deadly feud with the Nagas of Keedeemah. I also learnt from him that I was quite correct in my surmise that these men instead of combining to attack me were in great fear that I was going to attack them, and the fact of my having halted here gave colour to the story which I believe the Nagas of Keedeemah having been spreading [sic] abroad that I had espoused their cause and was now going to annihilate their enemies. However I have ordered to Jereele reassure them and to make them clearly understand that as long as they did not interfere with me or my men and obeyed my orders, they need having nothing to fear.
text: In the afternoon I received a complaint from the Nagas of Sokhabomah who state that a party from Koheemah had just visited their village and carried off some cows and a couple of rupees - I told them I would enquire into the matter and see what could be done but reminded them that at present I did not interfere in their private quarrels and recommended them to settled the matter themselves at which they seemed rather disgusted and observed that it was very hard if they had to obey me and were at the same time to gain nothing for their obedience - and I must confess I cannot help sympathizing with them. It is well known that the villages of Koheemah Khonomah and Mazemah are in the habit whenever it may suit their convenience of looting the smaller villages all round who complain most bitterly of their exactions to which I think we ought now to put a stop, indeed if we do not do so, it will undoubtedly be put down to fear and the inability on our part to do so and once that opinion takes root it requires little fore sight to see what the result will probably be. The inhabitants of the smaller villages finding they can obtain no protection from their more powerful neighbours will eventually become virtually little better than slaves whilst those of the larger village finding that our bausted [sic] rule of peace has not dared to interfere and put down war, will gain heart and its not improbable a combination at present impossible might then easily be formed and we should find ourselves fighting without sympathy of a single friend or the aid of a single ally.
text: I am glad to say the Munipoorees have returned the money which they had taken from Jackhomah the whole amount being paid back into the hands of the Nagas in my presence.