The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts from 'Account of the valley of Munnipore and of the Hill Tribes' by Major W. McCulloch

caption: British desire to bring peace to feuding tribes
medium: articles
person: Pemberton/ Capt.
person: McCulloch/ Major W.
date: 1858
refnum: from: Selections from the Records of the Government of India, No. 27 (Calcutta) 1859
text: Such are the tribes around Munnipore, and such the country inhabited by them. The latter is very fruitful and capable of improvement, but in the words of Captain Pemberton, " the state of society of the former is wholly incompatible with any mental improvement, or any advance in the arts. They pursue the same unvarying course of employment, felling timber, and tilling the ground assiduously during the season of cultivation, and after their crops are reaped, either resign themselves to the unrestrained indulgence of feasting and dancing, or to planning expeditions against the villages of some less powerful tribe." Amongst them all there is a more or less faint idea of a future life, and of rewards and punishments for virtue or misconduct, but the greatest misconduct is, the forgiveness of an injury, the first virtue, revenge, and the killing of a fellow creature is thought of with as little compunction as would be the killing of a fowl.
text: Before the connection of the British Government with that of Munnipore took place, the latter, not to speak of exerting influence over the tribes, was unable to protect the inhabitants of the valley from their aggressions, or to resist their exactions of black mail, and even after the conclusion of peace with Burma, and the fixation of a boundary for Munnipore, the majority of the tribes were independent, and known to us little more than by name. With the assistance of the arms and ammunition given to Munnipore by the British Government, some of the tribes have been thoroughly, the northern ones partially, reduced, and the attacks of the latter on the bordering Burmese have led to apprehensions of the interruption of the general peace of the Frontier. But the presence in Munnipore of a representative of the British Government, has preserved the peace, and by degrees, through his influence, the tribes have been brought to forego aggressions on Kubbo. The peace of the Frontier, the object of greatest political importance, has been gained, but the philanthropist would desire more, and a strong and honest Government would endeavour to repress the feuds and ameliorate the condition of the tribes. Their feuds, however, are, to the weak government of Munnipore, a source of strength, and afford a means of extortion which suits their dishonesty. Of their improvement, therefore, I see no prospect, unless by a moral regeneration, and that I fear is not to be effected.