Civil society has long played a crucial role in relief for communities experiencing upheaval, whether through natural disasters, state collapse, or violence. As critical scholarship has shifted the discourse on civil society from celebratory to cautionary, relief agencies and associated donors and partners have undergone deeper empirical investigation. While this is to be welcomed, much of this literature suffers from two key limitations. First, the focus has tended to be on situations where upheaval is sudden, visible, and the influx of civic actors is abrupt. Second, critical scrutiny is primarily reserved for the role of international agencies and donors, often working in local partnerships, where unevenness in resources, knowledge, and power is clearly visible. This paper directs critical inquiry to situations where upheaval has been constant and external involvement has been limited allowing a more thorough investigation of local civic actors. I focus on the role of civil society in peace in Northeast India, specifically the two federal states of Nagaland and Manipur, where armed conflict has existed in various forms for the last 60 years. Conflicts have been secessionist, internecine, and communal. Certain conflicts have been resolved, others have resumed after periods of peace, while new conflicts continue to emerge. Throughout these oscillations, local civic actors have been actively involved in the politics that have created conflicts and in the politics that have pursued and maintained peace. Using the case study of the tensions between the Meitei and Naga communities and civic actors during the Naga Peace Process between the Indian Government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-IM, I make three interlinked arguments. First, civic actors at the local level are vital for peace-making and peace-building, but expectations that they are capable and also willing to transcend the local politics in which they are embedded is unrealistic and unfair. Second, local civic actors involved in peace are not necessarily able to disentangle themselves from the contexts producing violence. Those that are able to do so are usually less representative organisations within minimal community support. Thirdly, the largely false dichotomy between agenda-ridden international relief agencies and noble local partners is not only difficult to sustain empirically but obscures the complex politics of peace and relief in less visible contexts.