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: clash between Naga culture and the American Baptist missions
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Ao
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: It is a pity that the American Baptist Mission had little sympathy with the aims of the Government and even less appreciation for the valuable elements of Naga culture. Many of its aspects conflict in no way with the principles of Christianity, and I believe that even some of the old feasts and ceremonies -- certainly the agricultural festivals -- could have been adapted to the new faith, given a new meaning and retained by the Christian communities. Where the Ao prays to a supreme deity who sends him happiness and misfortune and watches over the doings of men, an appropriate Christian prayer might have been substituted and there seems to be no reason why at the first sowing or at harvest the Ao Christian should not pray for the prosperity of his crops. No one will question the good faith and admirable enthusiasm of the missionaries. They were doing great work in the medical field and made thousands of Naga children literate. But it may be that with a little more understanding and sympathy for Naga culture they might have brought more happiness to their flock and avoided many of the more unfortunate results of a sudden clash of cultures.