Once upon a time, there was a land far far away, ok, it’s not the start of a fairy tale which exists only in our colorful realms of imagination, but I would like to bring your attention towards a real land much fairer than any fairy tale to say. The sovereign Republic of India has assigned only this one land, absolute sovereignty to look after their matters. A tribe which has been inhibiting that mysterious land in North Andamans for 6000 years, cut off from any outside contact barring occasional one or two outside expeditions reaching the land trying to make contact with the enigmatic tribes for vain.
The Sentinelese tribe, inhibiting the North Sentinel island in Andaman is one among the world’s greatest mysteries. The Seattle Times called the Sentinelese ‘arguably some of the most enigmatic people on our planet’.Researchers identified the main occupation of these people as hunting and fishing. They live in the dwellings made of palm leaves. Apart from that their knowledge of cold-smithing techniques can be inferred from their use of weapons such as harpoons, arrows, bows, and spears, fashioned by themselves. The tribals don’t wear clothes but adorn their bodies with leaves and wreaths made of plants. The relatively short stature, dark skin, and peppercorn hair suggest their African origin.
In January 1880, British invaders led by colonial administrator Maurice Vidal Portman tried to establish friendship in their way by ‘kidnapping’ a family from there and taking them to Port Blair. The parents passed away due to the incompatibility with the new atmosphere
which afflicted them with diseases towards which their bodies were not immune. The children were provided with gifts and were returned to the island, getting there they suddenly ran into the forest and disappeared.
After that failed initiative to make contact with the tribe, in 1967 an Indian Navy expedition headed by anthropologist TN Pandit tried to make contact with the tribe. Their first encounter was a failure as the tribe had retreated to the jungle. A series of expeditions followed using the Indian Navy vessel and small boats when the party dropped gifts for the Islanders. Those expeditions seemed to be partially successful as the tribe shed their aggressive stance towards the ‘invaders’ and accepted the gifts. But that moment was shortlived as the party was forced off the island with the threat of weapons and shrieks in a primitive language.
In 1974, a National Geographic (NG) team for the sake of a documentary tried to approach the island with the gifts like coconuts, aluminum cookware, miniature toys and a live pig.F or that ‘seemingly’ friendly gesture, they were greeted with a shower of arrows, one
of which pierced the director’s leg.
Post-1990 expeditions registered some friendly approaches initiated by the tribe. In 1991, Pandit and his Navy team arrived again in the island where they witnessed a hospitable behavior of the tribals. The Sentinelese arrived unarmed to greet them, climbed into their dinghy and curiously touched everything. Though Pandit was happy in their friendly approach, a fear crept into his mind about the further pristine existence of a long guarded tribe and their natural ways of living.
Anyhow a partial immunity to the tribe had been provided by the Indian Government in 1996 when they closed all expeditions to the island. The Government was forced to take that stand because many of the tribals belonging to the Jarawa sect had died due to the diseases introduced by the outsiders. Jarawas, Onge etc are the other prominent tribals in the region.
It seems that the tribes also took a defensive stand when in 2006 they attacked and killed two fishermen who had illegally entered the island looking for mud crabs. Even the helicopter which was sent to retrieve the bodies was continuously shot at with arrows.
Post-2004 Tsunami, the tribe was unharmed and they turned away the helicopters which arrived there with food packets brandishing spears and arrows.
The Sentinelese still roam freely, rule their land and protect it from the invaders while living a happy sustainable life content with their ways of living in those mysterious parts of the Andamans.L et the modernity be kept away from that, as the sons and daughters of
nature are self-sufficient and have been victoriously protecting a 6000 years old civilization.