The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter five. Change of Course
caption: tribes of the district and their history
medium: books
ethnicgroup: KacharisZemiMikirKuki <RangkholKuki <BietesKuki <ChongsenKuki <KhelmaKuki <Thadou
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: The Kacharis were the district's major tribe. Once the rulers of the Assam Valley, the Ahoms had driven them from their capital at Dimapur in the sixteenth century. Reestablished at Maibong, they had, two centuries later, been driven from that too and down into the surrounding plains. There their ancient kingdom had become extinct, but here, in the lowlands, the northern foothills and the main valleys, a considerable section of them survived, and with it much, in language, tradition and costume, which had been lost elsewhere. Then there were the Zemi Nagas, who lived chiefly in the Barail, but had a few villages round Haflong and on the plateau beyond. There were Mikirs in the northern forests; and almost throughout the area, except for the lowest ground, there were scattered Kukis - Rangkhols, Bietes and Khelmas on the plateau, and Thadous and Chongsens among the Zemi on the Barail.
text: Its history was stormy and brief. The first inhabitants were an aboriginal jungle race, whom the invading Kacharis wiped out. Then came the Zemi, migrating down the Barail Range from the north-east. They found the Kacharis (44) ensconced at Maibong, and, settling in the mountains south of it, lived for many years under Kachari suzerainty.
text: At last the Kachari kingdom fell. The warlike Angami Nagas, who had come to power since the Naga migration, raided the Zemi constantly and exacted tribute. Before their pressure the weaker Zemi villages of the north and east moved westward, passing through the crowded Barail and colonizing the rolling hills beyond the Diyung valley. They still spoke the Zemi dialect of Naga Hills, and not that of the earlier Barail settlers. Then from the south came Kuki immigrants, the first fringe of a great wave, and, filtering through the Zemi, squatted wherever they could on the closely-populated land. Kachari and Manipuri chieftains disputed the overlordship, but the hillmen acknowledged neither; and during the nineteenth century they were gradually brought under British rule. Since then there had been but two major disturbances. Both, however, coloured local politics yet. One was the Kuki rising of 1918; the other the Naga troubles of '31.