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Key words
tribe, customary law, council of elders, shifting cultivation, socialization
About the Author

Tel.: +7 (495) 772 9590 *2225;

11 Pokrovsky blvdd., 109028 Moscow, Russian Federation;

Assistant Professor, Foreign Languages Department, School of World Economy and

International Affairs, National Research University "Higher School of Economics".

 Since the colonial period North East India has been viewed as a frontier separated from the "mainland" in terms of culture, ethnicity, and mentality. One of the seven states, so called "seven sisters" located in the region, is Nagaland. Naga is the common name of the tribes Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Lhota, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchungr, Zeliang, Sumi, and Kuki inhabiting the state. Present article is the result of the field work conducted in a tribal village of Nagaland in December 2012 — January 2013. Author sought to determine whether the social structure and  he economic setup of the Ao Naga village changed somehow over the last 88 years since the first publication of the monograph "The Ao Nagas" by J. P. Mills.

The article argues that the social-psychological archetype — tribe — village — khel — patronimy (kiyong) — clan — family — has hardly changed. The tenure and utilization of land stays unalterable. Pursuant to Article 371А, Constitution of India (Special Provision with Respect to the State of Nagaland), customary law is applied within the territory of Ao Naga tribe and within the territory of Nagaland State as well. Mangmetong village has always been a small republic: the village council of elders legislates; executive practice and law enforcement is still the prerogative of a the council of elders. Shifting cultivation (slash-and-burn), jhum, is the main agricultural system.


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Elwin V. The Nagas in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford, 1969.

von Furer-Hiemrndorf Ch. Naked Nagas. Calcutta, 1968.

Mills J. P. The Ao Nagas. Oxford, 1968.

Stracey P. D. Nagaland Nightmare. Bombay, 1968.

Tajenyuba Ao. Ao Naga Customary Laws. Mokokchung; Nagaland, 1957.