In a world connected by internet, applications and the web, it’s mind-boggling to think that there still exists a tribe with absolutely no influence of the outside world. This mysterious tribe in question is the Sentinels.
A small group of people who have been living on this small island since 60000 years. Known as the North Sentinel, the island is located in the Bay of Bengal in India and sovereign in the sense that no outside law is applicable to the people living on the island. They are in fact so mysteriously disconnected from the world that the only successful attempt to bring them to the world failed because their immune system isn’t aware of today’s air and in turn the bacterias.
History of the tribe
The oldest record of the tribe dates back to 1700s according to the Atlas and boot. Later on, some other accounts of sentinels being hostile towards outside contact are also found.
Out of sight out of mind, and this is what happened to the Sentinels until the year 1967 when an when a discovery mission led by Triloknath Pandit, an anthropologist, was undertaken to make friendly contact with the mysterious tribe.
After this first contact, Pandit made several other trips to the island that houses the sentinels to better understand their lifestyle and way of living.
Their exact population is unknown
There have been various surveys and census but it’s not an easy task to survey the unwilling. There is no exact estimate available on the Sentinelese population only estimates and speculations. Since this census is done from away with just simple visual inspection of the population using records from areal devices there is no authenticity to the records.
Although the tribe is believed to have survived the Tsunami that hit India the current census estimates range from 50-100 individuals on this island. Who knows if that’s correct? No one!
Sentinelese’s Lifestyle is a mystery
There is very little documented on the general lifestyle of Sentinelese people. Compared to some other tribes whose lifestyle is much better documented, the lifestyle of Sentinelese people is still a huge mystery. For what we know of them, they seem to be living in a Stone Age era with no knowledge of metalworking, agriculture, or fire.
They live in large communal huts, and no signs of any form of agriculture or farming are discovered so far. Their diet mainly consists of mud crabs, fish and any other fruit and vegetables found on the island.
Lack of Social Contact
Around the 1970s, due to lack of any formal language, the Indian authorities tried to make indirect contact with the Sentinelese tribe by leaving gifts for the tribe on the shore and waiting for their reaction. The result of these trips was inconclusive. Sometimes the tribe would show friendly gestures but on other times they would be extremely aggressive and fire arrows at the incoming party.
Later on, these contact efforts were diminished due to lack of response and many officials questioned the viability and wisdom behind contacting a tribe that has survived and thrived for thousands of years on their own. Furthermore, trying to establish contact with the world in the past has resulted in a devastating impact on them, so the Sentinelese were left alone.
Resistance to outside contact
The Sentinelese tribe are known to be hostile towards any outsiders. During the 2004 Tsunami, a Coast Guard helicopter flew over the island to assess damage, which was also shot at by the Sentinels. They are extremely aggressive and killed two Indian fishermen in 2006 when their boat accidentally drifted off to the island. After the incident, a 3-mile zone has been imposed around the Island for the safety of people living outside as well as on the island.
The Sentinelese people are known to be related to other indigenous groups in the Andaman Islands, a group of islands in the Bay of Bengal. When people from related tribes were taken to see if they can communicate with the sentinels it was found that due to prolonged isolation from other Andaman groups, there is no common link between sentinels and their language.
Lastly, there has been little success in establishing contact with them and whatever little is known of this tribe is from the observations. This tribe is unique in its lifestyle because even after so many attempts to communicate with them, they choose to remain secluded with no desire to change adding to their allure and mystery.