The Most Mysterious Island On The Planet Is Home to People Untouched by Modern Civilization
North Sentinel Island, located in the Bay of Bengal, between Myanmar and Indonesia, is home to an isolated tribe that has never been colonized or even made contact with. These people are one of the last Stone Age tribes on Earth whose culture has been completely untouched by modern civilization.
The tribe of Sentinalese people live within a 3-mile exclusion zone to prevent anyone from getting close enough to see how they live.
After the catastrophic Indian Ocean earthquake of 2004, the Indian government sent a helicopter to check on the Sentinelese tribe. It’s curious that the North Sentinel Island and its inhabitants were almost unaffected while some nearby islands suffered heavy damage.
When the helicopter hovered over a group of tribesmen, they were throwing stones and shooting arrows at it.
The inhabitants of North Sentinel are so protective of their way of life, that any attempt to study or contact them is met with fierce violence. They refuse to be integrated into the modern way of life.
Despite the fact that the island formally belongs to India, no one dares to visit it and approach the Sentinelese tribe. The reason is their extreme violence and hostility – anyone who has ever tried to come ashore the island was attacked or even killed.
Contacts with the Sentinelese tribe
In 1896, a Hindu convict escaped from the prison but had a bad luck to ground on North Sentinel on a makeshift raft. As a result, his body was found a few days later on a beach, perforated by arrows and with the throat cut.
On August 2, 1981, when the ship Primrose ran aground on the North Sentinel Island reef, the crew noticed men on the beach who were carrying arrows and spears. The captain tried to use radio communication to ask for help, but did not receive it. Fortunately, the crew was lucky enough to be kept away from the island by the troubled waters and rescued by helicopter a few days later.
In the 1980s a shipwreck occurred on the island. The Sentinalese tried to invade the ship to take its cargo, and many were killed by the men aboard.
Most recently, two people were killed when they were illegally fishing for crabs, and their boat drifted onto the island overnight. When a helicopter attempted to retrieve the bodies of the fishermen, the helicopter was shot down with arrows.
Only one Indian anthropologist has been able to contact them and reportedly spent 24 years trying to gain their trust with bribes of coconuts and iron bits in order to learn how they live. All he was able to discern is that they are likely not cannabilstic, as previously assumed, with few other details filling in the gaps.
It was discovered, that they know how to use fire, but hide it jealously, because they don’t know how to make it. Their arrows are forged from iron taken from shipwrecks, and they are consummate marksmen.
They smear their deep ebony-toned skin with white or ochre as a form of art. It is also thought that their songs contain only two notes and that they can only count to two. Anything above this number they simply call, “many.”
They have no community structure, with no ‘chiefs,’ and no ‘witch doctors.’
Because the Sentinalese have shot arrows and thrown rocks at almost any plane that tries to land there, even if delivering food or other ‘aid,’ the government has banned travel and allows the tribe to live as they see fit.
It is estimated that the Sentinalese tribe lives as people did more than 15,000 years ago – well before the infiltration of human life with artificial intelligence, the nanny state, endless technologically gizmos, dysfunctional social structures, and more ‘stuff’ ‘than any of us truly need. While reverting to tribalism isn’t necessarily the answer to all modern woes, certainly the Sentinalese guard their way of life because they understand – on some level – the preciousness of isolation.
There are other indigenous tribes still living in various degrees of separation from the rest of the world in the island chain, including the Andamanese, the Onge and the Jarawa. Each is threatened by all-seeing eye which aims to govern even the most remote areas of the world, and the devilish acts of a society gone awry.
The question is how do we protect indigenous tribes that are remote and isolated when we can’t even protect indigenous cultures right under our noses.
What else is known about the Sentinelese tribe
The Sentinelese are believed to have lived on the island for 60,000 years! After this unthinkable period of time in isolation, it’s no surprise that they are so hostile to outsiders, which may be due to past conflicts with the outside world. In order to protect the Tribe and prevent unnecessary violence, the Indian government has also made it illegal to approach it closer than three miles.
Due to the inability to study the tribe and the island, we don’t know much about them. It is estimated that the tribe counts between 50 and 400 members and lives exclusively by hunting and gathering. Though it is difficult to observe the island from the air because of the dense tree cover, it is established that the Sentinelese are not familiar with agriculture.
Their drive to protect their culture from the outside world is probably the reason they have survived in isolation for so many years. Who knows how long they will manage to live in the middle of the ocean without having the slightest interest in the “civilized” rest of the world. And perhaps being without contact with us is a good thing.
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