The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter One. The Naga Hills
caption: absence of political or judicial authorities among Angamis; office of founder's descendant
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Angami
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: (13) The Angamis were never ruled by chiefs, and no one individual seems ever to have had authority over an entire village community. Wealth and prowess in war certainly gave a man a good deal of influence, but the villages were run on strictly democratic lines and no one could command his neighbours. Nearly all villages are, moreover, divided into khel, local units which in the old times had often independent foreign policies and who settled their own disputes by bloody fights. The fortified walls of the khel, separating one section of the villagers from their neighbours, were still to be seen. When with the coming of British rule head-hunting and feuds were suppressed, and the fear of enemies no longer re-enforced the cohesion of the khel, while on the other hand inter-khel quarrels could not be decided by the right of the stronger, individualist tendencies gained the upper hand, and disputing parties no longer content with the rough and ready justice of village elders began to carry their claims to the court of the Deputy Commissioner.