The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - extracts on Nagas from 'Assam Administration Report'

caption: Physical and Political Geography
caption: Nagas
medium: reports
date: 1901
date: 1902
text: 197. The tribes known to the Assamese as Nagas stretch uninterruptedly from the Patkoi along the southern frontier of the Lakhimpur and Sibsagar districts, to the valley of the Dhansiri and North Cachar. Of the Nagas in the British districts of the Naga Hills (the Angamis, Kacha Nagas, Rengmas, Semas, Lhotas and Aos) mention has already been made, Political control is exercised by the Deputy Commissioner of the Naga Hills over the Eastern Angamis and Semas beyond the boundaries of his district, within and area defined by the Dikhu Zeal or Nanga river from the limit of the Mokokchang subdivision up to the northern source of the river in the range west of the village of Yehim, thence by the Patkoi range, and the southern spur of that rage as far as the junction of the Tiju and Thejir rivers thence by the Tiju river as far as its junction with the Lanier, and from that point to the Manipur frontier by the Lanier river. Within this area the Deputy Commissioner makes an annual tour in the course of which he enquires into and settles inter-tribal disputes, in accordance with principles which have been laid down for his guidance. This system has had an excellent effect in putting a stop to murderous raids within the area to which it applies. Such relations as we maintain with the Naga tribes bordering the Lakhimpur and Sibsagar districts, east of the Dikhu, are conducted through the Deputy Commissioners of Lakhimpur and Sibsagar. From the Tirap river eastward to the Patkoi, the Nagas are completely in subjection to the Singphos, and are apparently a very quiet race. West of this point begins a succession of groups of villages known to the Assamese by the names of the passes or Duars through which their inhabitants resort to the plains, - as the Namsangias, Borduarias, Paniduarias, Mithonias, Banpheras, Jobokas, Bhitarnamsangias, Jaktungias, Tablungias, Assiringias, etc. The outer tribes of this region are in constant communication with the plains, and in the times of the Assam Rajas used to make annual offerings of elephants' tusks and other such articles. They do a considerable trade in cotton and other hill produce, and carry back large quantities of salt and rice, The inner tribes, known to the Assamese as Abors or wild men, are kept from access to the plains by these outer or 'Bori' (subject, civilised) Nagas, who thus keep the carrying trade in their own hands. These outer Nagas also come down in considerable numbers to labour in tea plantations and on roads during the cold weather. Unlike the Angamis, Semas, and Lhotas, who are intensely democratic in their social economy, many of the Eastern Nagas appear to acknowledge the authority of Rajas and minor chiefs among themselves.
text: With the internal affairs of these people we hardly meddle at all; but they are prohibited from carrying their quarrels into the settled British territory, and, if they do so, are tried and punished by our courts. On this frontier, a system prevails by which the Nagas of each group have allotted to them certain Assamese agents, called Kotokis, who manage small plots of revenue-free land called Naga khats, on behalf of the tribes. When the attendance of the chief in the hills is required for any purpose, they are summoned through these kototis. If satisfaction for robberies and other outrages is not in this way obtained, the Duar or pass through which the tribe visits the plains is blocked, and no one is allowed to come down or go up. This system has rarely failed to secure reparation: and on the whole, the conduct of the Nagas on this frontier has been peaceable and quiet, so far as the settled lands of the plains are concerned. Among themselves, however, their feuds are incessant, and are only composed to break out anew. The easternmost tribes of Borduarias and Namsangias have thus been prosecuting a quarrel for over fifty years, each group taking, when it can, the lives and heads of some of the others. With these feuds it has not been our policy to meddle, though attempts have occasionally been made to mediate between contending tribes.