Sentinelese is the most Reclusive Community in the World Represent Diversity of Human Heritage

Sentinelese, an isolated tribe, is believed to have hit with a volley of arrows and killed John Allen Chau, 26, an American man, on Friday 16 November 2018, shortly after landing on North Sentinel Island – part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India – which is off-limits to visitors without permission. In his diary, Chau wrote to his Parents hours before his death that he wanted to “declare Jesus” to the tribes’ people and that they should “not be angry at them or at God if I get killed”. Arrows were fired even at a government aircraft that flew over the island after the 2004 Tsunami.

  • Sentinelese is a negrito tribe who live on the North Sentinel Island of the Andamans and have not faced incursions and are known to aggressively resist outsiders.
  • They are perhaps the most reclusive community in the world today.
  • Their language is so far understood by no other group.
  • They have traditionally guarded their island fiercely, attacking most intruders with spears and arrows.
  • They have been contacted by anthropologists through 26 expeditions since the 1970s.
  • They have been mostly left alone even from colonial times, unlike other tribes such as the Onges, Jarawas and Great Andamanese, because the land they occupy has little commercial attraction.
  • The inhabitants are connected to the Jarawa on the basis of physical, as well as linguistic similarities.
  • Sentinelese presence was confirmed in the islands to 2000 years ago by the Anthropological Survey of India on the basis of carbon dating of kitchen middens (old dump for domestic waste).
  • Genome studies indicate that the Andaman tribes could have been on the islands even 30000 years ago.
  • Sentinelese are on the verge of extinction as their population was just 15 according to the 2011 Census, down from 39 as per 2001 Census. Their head count was put at 23 in 1991, 50 in 1931 and they were estimated to be 117 people from 1901 to 1921.
  • Anthropologists like T.N. Pandit, who made contact with them in the 1960s, put the figure at 80-90.
  • of India issued the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956 to declare the traditional areas occupied by the tribes as reserves, and prohibited entry of all persons except those with authorisation.
  • Rules were amended later to enhance penalties.
  • Photographing or filming the tribe members is also an offence.
  • Restricted area permits were relaxed for some islands recently.

Sentinelese, the most vulnerable inhabitants of the World represent diversity of human heritage.


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