The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Five. Heathens and Baptists
caption: opposing views of Government officials and missionaries to the welfare of Nagas
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Ao
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Government officials and missionaries took unfortunately exactly opposite views on what was good for the Nagas, and a great deal of confusion must have been caused in the minds of the tribesmen if one Sahib praised their morung as the most excellent institution and the other decried it as an invention of evil spirits. Government's policy had been to avoid any sudden disruption of Naga culture, respect tribal custom wherever it did not prejudice the maintenance of law and order, and tamper as little as possible with the old village-organization. The ousting of the products of village crafts by foreign imports was discouraged, and Government interpreters were indeed forbidden to wear western dress. With their land closed to traders, money-lenders and land-hungry settlers from the plains, the Nagas had been saved from the exploitation which has caused the ruin of so many aboriginal tribes in other parts of India. Respect for the old order, however, did not mean a policy of laissez faire. The Naga had been given security, cheap and (51) effective justice within the spirit of the tribal law, hospitals and dispensaries, a good many schools and improved communications -- not, it is true, motor roads but good bridle paths with bridges crossing all major streams.