In the Indian Ocean, there is a chain of islands between India and the Malay Peninsula, called the Great Andaman archipelago. Off the coast of this island is another smaller piece of land, North Sentinel Island. And it's a place not welcome to visitors.
The residents of North Sentinel Island are called the Sentinelese. Their society has been around for over 60,000 years, but very little is known about them. That's because they're an “uncontacted tribe,” meaning they are largely cut off from the rest of the world.
Note: due to their isolation, most footage of the Sentinelese is blurry or of low quality.
Due to this isolation, it's not known how many Sentinelese people are in existence. It's estimated that it could be as few as 50, and as many as 400. And many details about their lifestyle is also a mystery.
A video from LoveBite Productions sheds some light on the Sentinelese people. According to the video, the Sentinelese “are believed to be direct descendants from the first humans who emerged from Africa.” However, some contact has been made.
Starting in 1967, Indian anthropologist T.N. Pandit conducted government-sponsored trips to try to contact the people of the island. The video gave more details about his finding from his attempts at contact. And for the most part, the response from the locals was not very favorable.
“Sometimes they would turn their backs to us and sit on their haunches, as if to defecate,” Pandit was reported to have said in the video. “This was meant to insult us, as we were not welcome.” But that's tame compared to some other welcomes they've given to visitors.
In 2006, two fisherman reportedly washed up onto the shore of the island. Instead of getting assistance, the fisherman were attacked and murdered. To be safe, going within three miles of the island is now illegal.
“It doesn't matter whether you are friend or enemy, whether you arrive on the island shores by purpose or by accident,” said the narrator of the video. “The locals will treat you the same way, with spears and arrows.”
“Gifts of food and clothing are of no importance to them,” the narration continued. “They were even hostile to rescue missions after the tsunami in 2004.” Rescue workers flew over the island in a helicopter to drop off food, but a local emerged and shot an arrow at the copter.
By being so isolated, the Sentinelese lack immunity to many diseases, such as the flu. If such germs were to be spread the the Sentinelese, the tribe could get wiped out. So it makes sense that they would want to avoid outsiders as much as possible.
According to Survival International, “The Great Andamanese tribes of India’s Andaman Islands were decimated by disease when the British colonised the islands in the 1800s. The most recent to be pushed into extinction was the Bo tribe, whose last member died only four years ago. The only way the Andamanese authorities can prevent the annihilation of another tribe is to ensure North Sentinel Island is protected from outsiders.”
15. See More
Want to see more footage of the Sentinelese people? Then watch the video from LoveBite Productions here. Although the picture quality isn't perfect, it does provide a rare glimpse at a group that's "among the last uncontacted people in the world."