Neiphiu Rio
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio addresses the state-level consultative meet with tribal hohos (bodies) in Kohima on Monday.

Dimapur: Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday expressed concern over misrepresentation and incorrect usage of Naga traditional designs in fashion shows and on clothes being sold on e-commerce websites without any regard for the people who hold these traditional symbols in high regard.

This misuse of traditional attires and symbols, known as cultural appropriation, of late, has to be guarded, he said.

Rio was addressing the first of its kind state-level consultative meet on documentation of traditional attires, motifs, designs, and ornaments with all tribal hohos (bodies) at the Capital Convention Centre in Kohima.

He said cultural appropriation should be taken in all sincerity because the unregulated use of Naga cultural designs and symbols will lead to distortion and misrepresentation.

“It is not that others should not use our traditional attires nor should our communities and entrepreneurs be stopped from doing business in our traditional attires, but they have to be appropriately used,” he stressed.

Rio called for taking steps to ensure that the Naga cultural heritage is protected under legal provisions such as Intellectual Property Rights and Geographical Indications.

“Only then can we start controlling and regulating the use of our traditional attires, symbols, and ornaments,” he added.

Rio hoped that everyone present at the programme will cooperate and contribute positively to this work which will ultimately benefit all the Nagas.

In his address, adviser to information technology and communication Mmhonlumo Kikon said the meeting was significant for the preservation of not only Naga culture and identity but for the progress of the Naga people in the days to come.

“Unless our rights are enshrined in the various systems that are available in the Intellectual Property Rights, we will be allowing people to take advantage of our heritage,” he said.

The heart of the workshop, Kikon said, was to ensure that the Nagas not only sustain and keep our culture and heritage alive but also benefit in ways in which the new system will enable everyone to prosper. For this to happen community engagement is the primary approach, he added.

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: