Remote, mysterious, misunderstood
Scenes from Dimapur, the largest city in Nagaland.
Nagaland is one of seven states located in northeast India. Nagaland borders Burma and is not far from the countries of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan (see map below).
Nagaland is approximately the size of the state of West Virginia and has a population of about 2 million. The state is mostly mountainous with some of the highest peaks reaching 8,000 ft. above sea level. The Nagas are tribal people, perhaps of Mongolian descent, who probably migrated to the region centuries ago.
Approximately sixteen Naga tribes live in Nagaland, while scores of other Naga tribes live in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Burma. Each tribe has its own distinct language and customs, though all of the Naga tribes share some similarities.
The Nagas are an ancient people going through a modern transition. For centuries the Nagas were isolated and backward. Fierce and greatly feared, the Nagas were head-hunting warriors with almost no contact with the outside world. But 125 years ago, American Baptist missionaries first began to take the gospel of Christ to the Nagas. As the light of life slowly spread, the Nagas were transformed to a more peaceful and gentle people.
Today, almost all Nagas claim to be Christians, primarily Baptist, and there are churches in every village of Nagaland. Yet sadly, many Nagas do not have a clear Biblical understanding of salvation. But things are slowly changing for the better.
Throughout their existence the Nagas have been a separate and independent people. But in the 1800’s most Nagas were subjugated to British rule in India and Burma. In the 1950’s the Nagas revolted against newly independent India, resulting in an armed struggle which continues to some extent to this day. In 1963 the Nagas were granted their own state within India. However, not all the Nagas have accepted this measure as a final solution. Though things are generally peaceful, Nagaland remains a volatile place.
Political corruption, the rampant misuse of public funds, retards any development in the state.