NORTH SEN­TINEL IS­LAND

AN­DAMAN IS­LANDS, IN­DIAN OCEAN, IN­DIA

iD magazine - - Current Events -

FOR­BID­DEN ARCHIPELAGO

North Sen­tinel Is­land lies Bay in the of Ben­gal in the In­dian It Ocean. is part of the An­daman Any­one Is­lands. who gets too close will shot with be an ar­row. (Small photo shows a tribesman aim­ing a bow.)

WHY IS THIS IS­LAND IM­PREG­NABLE?

They have hardly set foot on the beach af­ter hav­ing climbed out of the dinghy when the group be­comes bom­barded by a hail of ar­rows. Flee­ing is the men’s only op­tion. “Wild, ap­prox­i­mately 50 of them, armed with home­made weapons and two or three wooden boats. We worry that they will board us at sun­set. The lives of all of the crew mem­bers can no longer be guar­an­teed,” ra­dios the cap­tain of the cargo ship MS Prim­rose when he finds him­self stranded off the coast of North Sen­tinel Is­land in the north In­dian Ocean in 1981. The 33-man crew of the Prim­rose was even­tu­ally res­cued by a he­li­copter in the nick of time. But from whom? To­day we know: One of the world’s last iso­lated in­dige­nous tribes lives on North Sen­tinel Is­land. In fact, ac­cord­ing to an­thro­pol­o­gist Stephen Corry, there are only 107 “un­con­tacted” tribes re­main­ing in the world. Like other in­dige­nous peo­ples, the Sen­tine­lese re­ject con­tact with out­siders—ev­ery stranger is greeted with a bow and ar­row. Con­se­quently, any­one who gets stranded at this for­bid­den place should ex­pect to pay for a visit to this land be­fore our time with his or her life. Mean­while, the In­dian gov­ern­ment has rat­i­fied a Mas­ter Plan for the Wel­fare of Prim­i­tive Tribes of An­daman and Ni­co­bar Is­lands, in which it is stated: “The Sen­tine­lese peo­ple do not need good­will from mod­ern civ­i­liza­tion. If they need any­thing, it is sim­ply non­in­ter­fer­ence.” Lit­tle is known about th­ese is­lan­ders’ numbers and his­tory. Their to­tal num­ber is es­ti­mated to be 50 to 80 peo­ple. How do we know? Ev­ery 10 years re­searchers take a cen­sus: They place co­conuts on the beach and from a safe dis­tance count how many folks are lured by the gifts.

FROM AN­OTHER WORLD The in­dige­nous res­i­dents de­fend their is­land and have no con­tact with the out­side world. For tourists the min­i­mum dis­tance is 165 feet.

11.5504° N 92.2333° E

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