By: Jalalaisa Geleto
North Sentinel Island is an island off the south east coast of India. Even though it is close to India, the inhabitants of the island have been isolated from the outside world for 60,000 years.
They have been visited by multiple people in the modern era, but most attempts end in failure. The people of North Sentinel Island the “Sentinelese” hate foreigners and have attempted to kill any foreigners within their arrows range of the island.
Many times the Sentinelese succeed in killing those who visit them.
People believe the reason they are so violent towards foreigners is because of what happened the first time they contacted outsiders. In 1856, the British visited the island and kidnapped two Sentinelese. They decorated the Sentinelese with fancy clothing and gifted riches to them. They did this to convince the two Sentinelese to hand them over the island.
There were problems with this. The Sentinelese were extremely primitive and they don’t have immune systems that can deal with outside diseases. So, when the British returned to Sentinelese, they died immediately from disease. Ever since that first encounter, the Sentinelese seemed to have a burning hatred for all outsiders.
The Senetinelese are a mysterious people because of their xenophobia. We don’t know their language, culture, population, food supply. The little we do know is that they might have forgotten how to start fires. It seems like they wait for lightning to strike some wood, then they try to keep the flame going for as long as possible.
Their population is a mystery. There could be 20 – 400 Sentinelese on that island. They are a very rare special group of people so they are under the official protection of the Indian government.
A group of people who are from a distant past is quite remarkable and hopefully we can learn more about these strange and ancient peoples.
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