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The Isolated Tribe Of The North Sentinel Islands

The Sentinelese are an isolated tribe that wants nothing to do with modern civilization and have made it clear by attacking outsiders who dare to step foot on their territory. They inhabit North Sentinel Island, a region of India in the Bay of Bengal and have almost no contact with the outside world; they are part of the indigenous groups on the Andaman Islands. They are so isolated that other groups on the Island can’t speak or understand their language. So if there’s one place on earth that wasn’t touched by the coronavirus, it would be Sentinel Island, as their decision to live isolated from the world has kept them unaffected by a worldwide pandemic.

Their language is different from neighbouring islands, and only a few members of the tribe are left.They have very dark skin and features associated with Africans. They are descendants of Africans who settled on the island many years ago; they are also taller than other Andamanese. They are hunters-gatherers and hunt animals using bows and arrows. They eat seafood and mud crabs, and they do not know how to make fire. They wear clothing covering the lower regions of their bodies and wear accessories on their heads.

They had reason to fear outsiders and not let anyone into their territory when Maurice Vidal Portman, a British officer, landed on the shores of the Island in 1880; He found that the Island was mainly composed of limestone and coral. He then captured a woman with four little children and held them, hostage for a few days before releasing the woman and one child with a few gifts. He grabbed an older man with his wife and child some days later. Along with the children he had taken hostage earlier, he transferred the captives to Port Blair. They all became ill, and the adults died. So he sent the children home with presents. And as you guessed, this brought distrust and hostility towards outsiders. The corpse of an Indian was found on the shore of North Sentinel. He had been pierced in several places by arrows and his throat cut. He was a convict who had escaped from prison and landed on the shores of the sentinel island only to be killed by the natives.

In 1974, when the National Geographic crew visited to film a documentary on the Island, they had to leave after a crew member was hit in the leg with an arrow, two local guides from a neighbouring tribe were also killed. In 2018, an American missionary John Chau who visited the Island after bribing fishermen to take him there, was killed by the tribe in an attempt to preach and convert them to Christianity. He was 27 years old. This incident the isolated group to global attention.

Indian Anthropologist T N Pandit tried to contact the Sentinelese in 1967 but failed repeatedly; he would leave gifts for the inhabitants to make them feel less threatened but had little success. Finally, in 1991, he had a breakthrough when the tribe came out to meet him and his team. They handed the gifts they had brought with them over to the Sentinelese, but they weren’t allowed to move closer to the Island.

The Indian government has prohibited visits to the Island, and any visits to the islands by outsiders is illegal. The Sentinelese have made it clear they wish to be left alone, which has kept them alive to this day as any exposure to foreign diseases could kill them. They respond to trespassing either by hiding or attacking the intruders.