1902 Encyclopedia > Naga Hills, Assam, India

Naga Hills, Assam, India

NAGA HILLS, a district in the south-eastern corner of the chief-commissionership of Assam, India, lies between 25° 13’ and 26° 32’ N. lat., and between 93° and 94° 13’ E. long, being a mountainous borderland between Now-gong district and Manipur state, with an area of about 6400 square miles. It forms a wild expanse of forest, moutain, and stream. The valleys and hills and covered with dense jungle, dotted with small lakes and marshes. Coal is known to exist in many localities, as well as limestone, chalk, and slate. The chief rivers are the Dayang, Dhaneswari, and Jamuna, only navigable for small boats during the rainy season.

In 1870 the deputy-commissioner roughly estimated the strength of the different tribes as follows: - Assamese, 705; Aitaniyas, 355; Cacharis, 3505; Kimirs, 8820; Kukis, 2524; Nagas, 66,535; total, 82,444. The estimated population in 1881-82 was 93,000. Agricultural is conducted in a rude, nomadic fashion, the only implements of tillage being the dao or hill knife, and a kodali or hoe. Rice and millet are the main crops. In some some places great skill is displayed in irrigation. The tea plant is indigenous, and a large number of natives are now employed in the tea-gardens. The manufactures embrace the production of the few rude articles required for domestic use or as clothing, and the forging of daos, kodalis, and spear-heads. Trade is generally conducted by means of barter, nad has considerably increased of late years. The local products available for export comprise rice, cotton, cloth woven from nettle fibre, ivory, beeswax, and various dyes obtained from the jungle. Salt and iron are imported; but the one great desire of every Naga is to have a gun. The revenue is nominal.

British administration was first introduced into the district in 1867; but it has not yet been surveyed, and it constitutes perhaps the least orderly portion of the Indian empire. It is inhabited by several wild aboriginal tribes, collectively known as the Nagas. Those within British territory are comparatively peaceful, but beyond the reach of British influence are several savage and predatory tribes, who are in the habit of raiding on the plains, and killing or carrying off inoffensive British subjects. Repeated expeditions have been dispatched to chastise them in their native hills. In 1873 a survey party under Leiutenant Holcombe were treacherously massacred. In January 1875 a force escorting a survey party under Captain Butler was attacked by Nagas, but unsuccessfully; later in the same year, however, he was cut off and killed. In 1879-80 the Nagas murdered the deputy-commissioner, Mr Daman, and, after receiving a sharp punishment, made a foray on the Cachar side, murdering a tea-planter and committing other ravages. For some time the district has been in a more settled condition. The construction of a road to Kohima, the principal town, and the settlement of a British governor there have produced a salutary effect. The eastern Nagas are becoming rapidly civilized.

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