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North Sentinelese Tribe of Andaman & Nicobar Island

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

It is 2022! Technological advancements are at their peak. The human race has explored and utilized not only ‘the blue planet’ but even dilated the reach to other astronomical bodies. It is crazy to see the rampant growth of AI as well, we as humans are in a never-ending spiral of growth and advancement. All this might not even be in the wildest dream of ancient people. For us today, all these things are quite normal. But is this the same for all of us?

Image by- National Geographic

The answer is NO. Do you know there is a community of people living among us which is completely heedless and unbothered about everything we have done? The lifestyle that we have is all Greek to them. The people are 'North Sentinelese' people living on the North Sentinel island. North Sentinel Island is one of those rare places on earth which are still very unknown. It is the part of Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands, India. It is about 50km away from port Blair. Sources from 'Discovery' states that they might be the last non- contacted people on earth. The statement itself is jarring to the ears but is true. It is believed that when humans migrated from Africa to all over the world, the people who got settled on these remote islands failed in making contact with the rest of the world due to lack of modes for transporting via water. These people never sustained through agriculture, in fact it is believed that they know nothing about agriculture. They are the last stone age tribe in the world whose way of sustenance is hunting and gathering.

There have been various attempts made by people to contact the North Sentinel tribe but all went in vain, they never showed amicable signs and retorted in aggression.

The language is a big barrier, as these people can not understand anything we speak and vice versa. In their own world, they have a language of their own that they use for communication.

In the 2nd century A.D Claudius Ptolemy described them as 'cannibals', The Arab travelers from the mid-ninth century made similar claims, though they were falsified later on.

In 1867, an Indian merchant ship due to technical faults wrecked near this island shore. It carried around 100 passengers. The Sentinelese people attacked the survivors. Certain other attempts by officials to establish contacts with the people. A British official managed to kidnap a few people and took them to Port Blair, the motive was to know more about these people. These people could not adapt to the new environment and kicked the bucket. Immunities of the tribe likely has a stark difference from us, so it is not advisable to bring them between us. This incident further worsen the behavior of these people as they thought of the people to be invaders trying to harm them.

In 1967, Pandit Triloknath with a team of 20 people including scientists, army personnel's and professionals went to the island. Pandit also went back with a film crew in 1974 and recorded clips of these people and gifted them some food and coconuts. The people were insecure and used to shoot with arrows and bury anything they were gifted.

Madhumala Chattopadhyay, an Indian anthropologist, with a small team went to the island armless with some coconuts. This time the North Sentinelese people accepted the gifts with open arms. It is speculated that this time they did not show signs of violence as she was a woman, and they found her harmless.

The government tried establishing contact with them in 1991 but they again only reiterated with arrows and bows. All this resulted in a ban after 1997. The government realized that there is no fruit in invading these people and harming their tranquility. They show no signs of amalgamation with the rest of the world.

There is a 5 km exclusion zone around the island and no one is allowed to go there. Governments policy-"EYES ON, HANDS OFF" was implemented, that is, the government will keep an eye on these people whenever they are in need but no one will try and reach these people. Helicopters are sent during times of calamities to check whether the tribe is safe and sound.

In 2018, A 26-year-old American man wanted the tribe to be taught Christianity, he was obsessed with his idea.

Even though it was illegal to go to the island but his insanity drove him there. He bribed a local fisherman and somehow went to the island. He took his camera, some fish as food, and the Holy Bible. He encountered the North Sentinelese men as they approached towards him with bows and arrows. His attempts to make contacts failed miserably and he eventually succumbed to death.

All these incidents and anecdotes have been quite interesting, through which it is speculated that these people are not explorers, they never tried to explore land near them. These hunter-gatherers eat fruits, small animals, and fish to survive. They live in huts and wear almost no clothes, the men carry arrows and bows and women wear fiber strings around their necks. It is estimated that their population is around 100-500, which is another interesting fact as there is no overpopulation, even though they can reproduce healthily. This self-sustaining tribe is basically content in its own bubble and shows no inquisitive signs.

Some people say that we should not stop contacting them as they are a part of this world and must see the advancements around them. While the other group believes that this tribe must be left on its own as it will be really difficult for them to gel in with people of different immunities and various diseases can be passed on to them, so they might not be able to survive. The message is quite clear to us now, these people have nothing to do with the rest of the world. They must have their right to privacy and must be left on their own.

By our Member - Sophia Kundu (Get membership and feature your article. Check here)




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