The Sentinelese: Fierce Resisters Against Global Culture

On one of my meandering trips about the web I encountered the story of the Sentinelese, a small tribe who has fiercely resisted all attempts at contact by outsiders. The Sentinelese live a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle; highly primitive by Western standards. They’ve been known to murder interlopers, accidental and otherwise:

I found out about the Sentinelese via a Wikipedia entry on uncontacted peoples, and was pleased to see that Atlas Obscura has an entry on this fiercely independent people.

The Sentinelese, the inhabitants of small North Sentinel island, are the only remaining tribe in the Andaman chain to maintain their isolation. Since 1967 Indian authorities have attempted to make peaceful contact with the Sentinelese under the auspices of anthropological research. These “contact expeditions” consisted of a series of visits in which gifts such as coconuts were left on the shores, in an attempt to coax the Sentinelese out of their customary hostility to outsiders. Almost all of these attempts were greeted with showers of arrows and stone.

In 2006, Sentinelese archers killed two fishermen who were fishing illegally within range of the island, and drove off the helicopter that was sent to retrieve their bodies with a hail of arrows. The current policy of the Indian government is to leave the islanders alone. There are currently no planned attempts to contact the Sentinelese and access to North Sentinel island is strictly forbidden.

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  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    fascinating. Contact by outsiders might spread diseases throughout their fragile immune systems so perhaps its best for now (until something is worked out)

    • Matt Staggs

      Wonder if this is how the aliens will try to contact us…and maybe if this is how we’ll respond.

      • Ted Heistman

        I was thinking that these are the only ones that effectively resisted the aliens and that everyone else on plant Earth has had their minds invaded by alien memes.

    • Ted Heistman

      They seem to have a sixth sense about disease or something. When offered pigs they kill them and bury them, when offered trinkets, they take them and then basically say “Thanks, now get the fuck out of here.”

  • Ted Heistman

    I really love these people. I have been following them for a while. I wrote an article about them on another person’s blog.

    http://sawbonessurio.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/the-hunter-gatherers-and-the-pirates-i/

  • Ted Heistman

    They seem to be very egalitarian between the sexes. This seems to be a very pure egalitarian hunter gatherer culture. Everyone hearkens back to a culture like this, yet, they like us have made it to 2013.