Interesting Facts About Sentinelese: The Stone Age Tribe

Sentinelese

Sentinelese

Today, there are very few truly uncontacted peoples left in the world — that is, people who have never been settled or colonized or had their mineral rights exploited, who know virtually nothing of the outside world, and about whom the outside world knows virtually nothing. One of these communities live on North Sentinel island, at the tip of the Andaman archipelago between India and Malaysia to the east.
Protected by jagged reefs, rough seas and a reputation for shooting outsiders with arrows, there have been relatively few serious attempts to contact the Sentinalese. Efforts that have been made have failed; even gifts and peaceful offerings left onshore by anthropologists and Indian government officials have been answered with a hail of arrows. When one such landing party actually made it to shore, the islanders simply vanished, seeming to melt into the jungle.
The Sentinelese (also known as Sentineli or North Sentinel Islanders) are the indigenous people of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman Islands of India. One of the Andamanese people, they resist contact with the outside world and are among the last people to remain virtually untouched and uncontacted by modern civilization.
Videos exist of the Sentinelese, taken by anthropologists from distant vantages. This one consists mostly of footage from the 70s, and features a gift of coconuts being made to the islanders, and the islanders’ response — arrows fired at the anthropologists’ boat, and a great deal of rude dancing and genital-waggling aimed in their direction.
The Sentinelese maintain an essentially hunter-gatherer society subsisting through hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants. There is no evidence of either agricultural practices or methods of producing fire. The Sentinelese language remains unclassified and is not mutually intelligible with the Jarawa language of their nearest neighbors. The Sentinelese are designated as a Scheduled Tribe.
Without further ado, let’s now look at some interesting facts about Sentinelese you probably didn’t know.
1. Since the late 90s, the official policy of the Indian government has been to leave the Sentinalese alone. Still, that hasn’t stopped accidental run-ins from occurring; back in 2006, a boat carrying two fishermen accidentally drifted into the shallows of North Sentinel, and the fishermen were killed. When a helicopter was dispatched to retrieve the bodies from the beach, the islanders chased it away with arrows.
2. The precise population of the Sentinelese is not known. Estimates range from fewer than 40, through a median of around 250, and up to a maximum of 500. In 2001, Census of India officials recorded 39 individuals (21 males and 18 females); however, out of necessity, this survey was conducted from a distance and almost certainly does not represent an accurate figure for the population which ranges over the 59.67 km2 (14,700 acres) island.
3. In 2006, Sentinelese archers killed two fishermen who were fishing illegally for mud crabs within range of the island. Their boat’s improvised anchor failed to prevent it from being carried away by currents while they were asleep. The boat drifted into the shallows of the island, where they were killed. An Indian Coast Guard helicopter that was sent to retrieve the bodies was driven off by Sentinelese warriors, who fired a volley of arrows.
4. Their island is legally a part of, and administered by, the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In practice, however, the Sentinelese exercise complete sovereignty over their affairs and the involvement of the Indian authorities is restricted to occasional monitoring, ever more infrequent and brief visits, and generally discouraging any access or approaches to the island. The possibility of future contact, whether violent or non-violent (armed or unarmed) has been discussed by various organizations and nations.
5. Most of what is known about Sentinelese material culture is based on observations during contact attempts in the late 20th century. The Sentinelese maintain an essentially hunter-gatherer society, obtaining their subsistence through hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants; there is no evidence of any agricultural practices.
Their dwellings are either shelter-type huts with no side walls and a floor sometimes laid out with palms and leaves, which provide enough space for a family of three or four and their belongings, or larger communal dwellings which may be some 12 square metres (130 sq ft) and are more elaborately constructed, with raised floors and partitioned family quarters.

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