Mysterious Island Home to a Isolated and Dangerous Tribe.
Imagine a place unchanged by modern life and people disconnected from the world. This remote tribe lives in the jungle of a small island and attacks anyone reaching their shore (1). This place and its warlike people are as interesting as they are mysterious.
Found in the Indian Ocean is the unassuming North Sentinel Island. Known for tropical storms, cyclones, and pirates, the Indian Ocean has taken many lives (2). It’s here, a small square-shaped island roughly 24 square miles that holds the most isolated people on earth. A thick jungle canopy still holds much of the island’s secrets, because those who venture there don’t return…
The Sentinelese Tribe
The Sentinelese tribe is so secretive that little is known about them. They don’t risk traveling to the shoreline unless confronting an unwanted visitor. Drones have captured footage of them through the trees but must keep their distance as they sustain attacks. Their clothing is simple and minimal, made from resources on the island.
They paint themselves with decorative markings and live in basic huts. Curiously, they don’t have any desire to interact with the outside world. Documented encounters with the Sentinelese tribe have ended in bloodshed for unlucky travelers. The Indian government prohibits travel to North Sentinel Island for the safety of those involved.
A Hostile People Violently Attacking Anyone Who Comes Near
One encounter happened in 2006 and involved two fishermen. These men accidentally drifted onto North Sentinel Island during the night (3). Fellow fisherman shouted warnings to the men from the water, but their voices were too faint (3). The Sentinelese approached the two men and murdered them with spears and rock weapons (3).
An Indian coast guard helicopter tried to retrieve the fisherman’s bodies, but spears and rocks struck the aircraft (3). They had to abandon the mission and leave the men’s remains. Pictures from the rescue helicopter show the Sentinelese charging forward and attacking (3). It’s not clear what threat the Sentinelese tribe felt toward the fisherman.
A more recent encounter involved an American missionary in 2018. John Allen Chau paid a fishing vessel to take him near North Sentinel Island and drop him off with his kayak (4). The first attempt to interact with the Sentinelese started well with an exchange of gifts but suddenly turned violent (4). Chau was able to escape back to the fishing vessel and vowed to try again the next day.
The fishing boat was told to stay out of sight, so no one witnessed the second encounter. However, the fishing vessel saw the aftermath and Chau’s lifeless body as the Sentinelese dragged it along the shoreline (4). Charged with the crime of taking Chau into an illegal area, the fishermen faced consequences (4). The Indian government has left the island alone and prohibited access to its shores.
Sentinel Island Continues to Hold Its Secrets
It’s not known how many people live on North Sentinel Island. The Sentinelese culture and way of life remain a mystery. It’s not clear why they are so hostile to outsiders or how they view things like boats or helicopters of the modern world. However, it’s theorized their behavior toward visitors is likely the reason they still exist (1).
If you find yourself traveling the vast Indian Ocean and avoiding its dangers. You might navigate turbulent waters and bypass pirates, but don’t forget about North Sentinel Island. A seemingly innocent jungle-covered patch of land that is anything but ordinary. It’s the home of the most isolated tribe on the planet. And the Sentinelese are determined to keep it that way.
“I think they have every right to do so.“
1. North Sentinel Island, home of the Sentinelese. Retrieved January 06, 2021, from https://northsentinelisland.com/
2. Z. (2020, March 20). 4 Most Dangerous Parts of the World’s Oceans. Retrieved January 06, 2021, from https://www.weirdworm.com/dangerous-parts-of-the-worlds-oceans/
3. Foster, P. (2006, February 09). Stone Age tribe kills fishermen. Retrieved January 06, 2021, from https://www.smh.com.au/world/stone-age-tribe-kills-fishermen-20060209-gdmxm8.html
4. Jamieson, A., Fieldstadt, E., & Press, A. (2018, November 22). American killed by isolated tribe on India’s North Sentinel Island, police say. Retrieved January 06, 2021, from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/american-killed-isolated-tribe-india-s-north-sentinel-island-police-n938826