History #1 – The Naga People

The Nagas

‘Naga’ is a generic term which comprises various tribes. The Naga people are various ethnic groups associated to the present North Eastern part of India and northwestern Myanmar. The tribes have similar cultures and traditions, and form the majority of population in the Indian state of Nagaland and Naga Self-Administered Zone of Myanmar; with significant populations in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in India; Sagaing Division and Kachin State in Myanmar.


The ancient history of the Nagas is unclear due to lack of documented historical record except for oral legends, folksong, and folk-tales. Many theories have been put forward by historians, geographers, anthropologists and other scholars on the origin of the Nagas. But no ‘absolute’ solution has been possible till today. However, it is commonly believed that Nagas belong to the Mongoloid race and that the majority of the Nagas immigrated from South-East through Indo-Myanmar border to the Naga Hills. The various Naga tribes migrated at different times, each settling in the north-eastern part of what is now India.

There are several Naga tribes living in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar (Burma). Nagaland State is the home of many of these tribes namely – Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchunger and Zeliang.

Apart from the Nagas, other tribes namely – Kuki, Kachari, Garo and Gorkhalis have settled in Nagaland for many generations.


NEXT: History #2 – Origin of the word ‘Naga’