The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : 'Konyak Nagas' by Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, (1969)

caption: Chapter Five. Present and Future
caption: recent history of Nagaland
medium: books
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York103:1
text: The future of the Konyaks is bound up with the fate of the state of Nagaland, which includes the greater part of the Konyak region. Though forty years ago the Nagas were among the ethnographically best-known tribes of India, today there is no part of the subcontinent about which the outside world has less up-to-date information. In this new state, which comprises the old Naga Hills district and the adjoining "tribal area" of the British period, the government of India has been faced with tribal disaffection and unrest for nearly two decades, but the course of events since 1947 has been so bedeviled by political conflict and propaganda that no one without first-hand experience of the underlying causes of the Nagas' rebellion can assess the situation with any measure of confidence in his own judgment. Without access to official records it is impossible to reconstruct the exact sequence of events which followed the British withdrawal. The Japanese invasion of 1944 had certainly disrupted the previous administration, but the Nagas had, on the whole, proved loyal to the government of India and the British district officers. In the past they had enjoyed a special status and there had been very little interference with their internal affairs. Taxation had been light and the villages had been allowed almost complete self- government. Thus, in 1936 and 1937, when I worked among the Konyaks, not a single administrative or police official was stationed in the Konyak area under British control, and even the visits of touring officials were rare events. Neither were traders from the plains of Assam permitted to enter the Naga Hills. Thus, the traditional pattern of village life had remained largely undisturbed, and except for the ban on head- hunting and intervillage feuds, the administration did not concern itself with the way in which the Konyaks managed village politics.