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The Kukis of Naga Hills: Rethinking Kuki-Naga Relations in Light of Kukis Contribution to the Early Naga Movement

By David Hanneng

Whenever we heard about the Kukis and Nagas, the binary identity is often assumed to be antagonistic and synonymous with conflicts over land and the antagonistic positions taken by both the communities over any issue in Manipur, which had clouded over all other stories of the past. The past may not be rosy but it is different from what has often been portrayed – a history supposedly of continuous hatred and killings. In the dispensation of sub-nationalist struggles in the northeastern region, often diatribes directed towards each other are a result of the present fights for bigger control over land and resources, particularly in Manipur. The Kukis and Nagas lived together for centuries in Manipur and composite Assam and their relationship in the past was not necessarily antagonistic, as often portrayed. In the then Naga Hills the relationship was even closer where the Kukis played an important role in the early Naga movement. This essay will trace the relationship between the Kukis and Nagas in the Naga Hills and discuss the contributions of the Kukis in the Naga political movement. Besides, this work shows the fallacy of focusing on conflicts of the past when warfare was a way of life in the tribal world, be it within the Kukis and the Nagas – often within tribes and clans, resulting in inter-village feuds. The Kuki and Naga relation in the past has elucidated interest in recent years. This study aims to present the historical facts so that people contemplate the past without relying on hearsay.

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