This article studies two seismic decades in the history of the Garo community, marked out in colonial records as among the most violent and isolated people that British rule encountered in eastern and northeastern India. Through a densely knit historical narrative that hinges on an enquiry into the colonial reordering of the core elements of the regional political economy of eastern and northeastern India, it will train its focus on the figure of the rebellious Garo peasant and on the arresting display of Garo recalcitrance between 1807 and 1820. Reading a rich colonial archive closely and against the grain, the article will depart from extant historiography in its characterization of the colonial state in the early nineteenth century as well as of its relationship with ‘tribes’/‘peasants’ in eastern and northeastern India. A critique of the idea of primitive violence and the production of the ‘tribe’ under conditions of colonial modernity will occupy the latter half of the article. Here it will argue that the numerous and apparently disparate acts of headhunting, raids, plunder, and burning by the Garos on the lowlands of Bengal and Assam were in fact an assembling of the first of a series of sustained peasant rebellions in this part of colonial India—a powerful manifestation of a community's historical consciousness of the loss of its sovereign self under British rule.