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The little-known hostile Sentinelese tribe of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: 10 facts

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Srishty Choudhury | Updated on: 22 Nov 2018, 12:04:58 PM
An American tourist was killed by unidentified Sentinelese tribesmen (Image: survivalinternational.org)

New Delhi:

An American tourist from Alabama, identified as John Allen Chau, was killed by unidentified Sentinelese tribesmen in North Sentinel Island of Andaman and Nicobar on November 16. According to reports, he had paid local fishermen Rs 25,000 for smuggling him to the island. Efforts to recover his body, supposedly buried by the tribals, have been unsuccessful so far. As many as seven fishermen were arrested.

“We are aware of reports concerning a US citizen in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The welfare and safety of US citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State. When a US citizen goes missing, we work closely with local authorities as they conduct search efforts. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment to offer,” a statement issued by the US Consulate at Chennai read.

Read More | Hit by arrows, half buried in sand: American killed by Andaman tribe

The fishermen, who ferried John Chau to the island late on the night of November 14, told police that they anchored their boat about 500 metres from the beach. Early the next day, the American rowed to the island in a canoe he had brought along. He was also carrying a Bible, Andaman & Nicobar Director General of Police (DGP) Dependra Pathak said according to a report in NDTV. The fishermen saw the Sentinelese shoot arrows at Chau, but he kept going forward.

Little-known facts about the Sentinelese?

  1. Out of the 100 estimated uncontacted tribe left in the world, the Sentinelese is believed to be the one.
  2. The Sentinelese, who number about 40, are known to resist contact with the outside world and live in the North Sentinel Island of Andaman and Nicobar.
  3. Unlike other tribes, the Sentinelese people avoid being in contact with other tribes. As such, their language is only understood within the tribe itself.
  4. According to a study, the Sentinelese are believed to be incomprehensibly primitive that even fire-making is unknown to them. Lighting remains the source of their fire-making.
  5. They still use primitive tools and still live a hunter-gatherer life with no understanding of agriculture.
  6. The most famous incident of their primitive nature was known to the rest of the world when two drunk fishermen fell asleep and ended up on the Sentinel Island. They were attacked by spears and arrows and later succumbed to their injuries. Efforts to even recover their bodies were impossible to take place as the helicopters sent were received with hails of arrows.
  7. The British, in the hopes of contacting the tribe and introducing the tribe to the rest of the world, kidnapped two elderly men and four children. The kidnapped tribesmen were brought back to Port Blair in the hopes of indoctrinating the tribe with the modern lifestyle. They were showered with gifts and treated in the best possible manner.
  8. However, within a few days the two older men died. Years of isolation have made the tribesman’s immune system lacking thousands of years behind the civilised world. As such, their body couldn’t resist the modern illnesses such as influenza, small pox, among others. And the British thought it was best to leave the tribe alone and sent back the four remaining children.
  9. The Indian government passed a law against getting in contact with this primitive tribe.
  10. The last contact anyone had of them was during the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 that killed thousands of people. On being concerned about these tribe after the Tsunami, navy helicopters were sent to check on them. And as usual, they were received with rains of arrows which only meant they were alive and well.

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First Published : 22 Nov 2018, 09:40:13 AM

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