History Of Sentinelese Tribes

The Sentinelese are a group of indigenous tribal people who inhabit North Sentinal Island which is located in the Bay of Bengal in India. These people lead a reclusive life which is unknown to anyone in the world. They belong to the broader class of Andamanese people. But unlike other Andamanese people, they ignore interaction with people and they also kill people who try to approach them and Photography is strictly prohibited. It is estimated that the population of Sentinelese is around 50 to 100. In 1956, the Government of India declared North Sentinel Island a tribal reserve and prohibited travel within 3 miles (4.8 km) of it. It further maintains a constant armed patrol to prevent intrusions by outsiders. Photography is prohibited.

Appearance and Practices :

They live in lean-to huts with slanted roofs facing one another, with a carefully-tended fire outside each one. They have also built small, narrow outrigger canoes, which they manoeuvre with long poles in the relatively shallow, calm waters inside the reef. These canoes are used by the Sentinelese people to fish and harvest crabs. They also carry bows and arrows, as well as spears and knives to protect themselves from predators and also to unwelcome visitors. Many of those tools and weapons are tipped with iron. Nothing is known about Sentinelese language and hence it is unclassified. But it is reported that their language is partially similar to Onge language.

Explorers :

In 1967, an anthropologist working for the Anthropological Survey of India named T.N.Pandit made a visit to North Sentinal Island along with the company of 20 people. After the visit, documentary films are made regarding the life of these people. Through binoculars, the group saw several clusters of Sentinelese along the coastline and when the team advanced, they retreated into the forest. The team followed their footprints and after about a kilometre, found a group of 18 huts that are made from grass and leaves that showed signs of recent occupation as evidenced by the still-burning fires at the corners of the hut. The team also discovered raw honey, skeletal remains of pigs, wild fruits, a multi-pronged wooden spear, bows, arrows, cane baskets, fishing nets, bamboo pots and wooden buckets. Metal-working was evident. The team failed to establish any contact and withdrew after leaving gifts.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Pandit undertook several visits to the island, sometimes as an “expert advisor” in tour parties with so many dignitaries who wished to encounter an aboriginal tribe where most of them got a friendly reception, with hordes of gifts left for them, but some ended in violent encounters, which were mostly suppressed.

Recently, on 16th November 2018, John Allen Chau made a visit to the island with the intention of spreading Christianity among the Sentinelese people. It is told that Chau was killed by those people. On the next day of Chau’s visit, the fisherman with whom Chau allegedly paid Rs.25000 to smuggle him to the island said that he saw a body looking alike Chau was buried in the sand. Police of Andaman and Nicobar Islands say that they are consulting experts to decide whether it is feasible to retrieve Chau’s body, and will not provoke a confrontation with the Sentinelese, whose island is off limits to visitors without permission.







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