The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts on Nagas from 'Assam Administration Report'

caption: II. The Semas
caption: Naga Hills district
caption: Relations with Tributary States and Frontier Affairs
caption: punitive expedition
medium: reports
person: Porteous/ Mr
ethnicgroup: Sema
location: Lazami (Lozema)
date: 1889
date: 1890
text: 32. The Sema tribe was visited by the Deputy-Commissioner in April and a long series of inter-village murders were enquired into and punished. Two years had elapsed since the previous promenade through the Sema country which was the first ever undertaken. On that occasion, Mr. Porteous confined himself to making known to the headmen of the villages visited the orders of the Government as to their future responsibilities under the political control system, in one or two instances only actually punishing any village. In forecasting the results likely to follow that promenade, the Deputy-Commissioner remarked that it was idle to suppose that inter-village feuds would cease in consequence of it and the sequel has shown that his anticipations were only too correct. The Semas are a race which until we occupied Lozema, had never come into contact with civilisation, and cut off entirely as they were from all trade with the plains, they were barbarous and ignorant beyond any tribe hitherto encountered. There was a short period after the first promenade when head-taking did cease, but it revived in full vigour in the cold weather of 1888-89, and the Deputy-Commissioner's time being fully occupied with the trans-Dikhu tribes in that year, no Sema tour was undertaken. When at last the tribe was again visited in April 1889, there were found to be ten distinct cases of head-taking involving the murders of 17 persons to be dealt with. In one case a Sema village outside the political control line was the offending village. In the remaining nine cases the murders were of persons belonging to Sema villages in the area of political control by men of other Sema villages within the same area.