Trivia / Andaman and Nicobar

The _______ tribe is believed to be the last tribe in the world that remains completely isolated from the rest of the world.

  1. Gond
  2. The Great Andamanese
  3. Sentinelese

Sentinelese

The Andaman Islands are home to the Sentinelese tribe, believed to be the last pre-historic tribe in the world that remains isolated till date. This tribe is believed to have existed for about 60,000 years and are believed to have migrated from Africa. The Sentinelese are the only people currently known to live in the era of the stone age and have not reached further than a Paleolithic level of technology. They survive on hunting, gathering, and fishing, and live in dwellings made of palm leaves.

These people confine themselves to the North Sentinel Island, a part of the Andaman group of Islands. The Sentinelese, believed to be between 50 and 200, have rebuffed all contact with the modern world, firing a shower of arrows at anyone who comes within range.

In 1880, the British invaded their island and kidnapped a family to establish friendship by treating the kidnapped victims well and give them gifts. The elderly died of diseases that they weren’t immune to, and the children were returned to the islands after loading them with gifts. In 1967, the Indian government initiated the first “contact” expedition in which they intended to establish friendship by leaving gifts like coconuts and steel utensils for the tribe. The expedition failed.

In another attempt in 1974, the government officials were accompanied by a team from the National Geographic to film a documentary “Man in Search of Man”. The team was greeted with a round of arrows and the expedition failed to establish friendship again. Multiple attempts were made until the 1990s, which was when the natives began allowing boats to come closer to the island. Finally, in 1991, the Sentinelese approached the officials without hostility before retreating back to the forest.

The government, however, closed the expeditions in 1996, after some Sentinelese people died of diseases introduced to them due to the expeditions. Since then the North Sentinel Island is off limits and the government has declared it as a criminal offence to go within 3 miles of the island or attempt to make any contact with the inhabitants. This might be the only place on earth, that has remained untouched from the impact of modern civilisation.

Recently in 2006, two fishermen landed on the island by mistake and were killed by the Sentinelese. The helicopter sent to retrieve the bodies was showered by arrows and had to return back to safety.