The forgotten tribe that hasn't discovered 'fire' yet

Maya Devi

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The North Sentinel IslandWikimedia;

There are a few tribes that prefer to be isolated from the outside world. The most isolated one of them all is the Sentinelese, living on the North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean.

What is surprising is that they haven’t discovered fire! As far as we know, they wait for lightning strikes and keep the resulting ember burning for as long as they can.

Unlike other isolated tribes, the Sentinelese don’t like outsiders due to unknown reasons and attack those who approach them with arrows. In 2006, two Indian fishermen who had moored their boat near North Sentinel to sleep were killed after their boats broke loose and drifted on shore.

Another case was of John Chau, an American adventure blogger, who went to the island in 2018, on a mission to convert the Sentinelese to Christianity. Unfortunately, his fate was the same as the fishermen’s.

The Sentinelese weren’t always this hostile to outsiders. In 1880, a British Royal Navy officer named Maurice Vidal Portman, a part of the British Empire colonizing India, stepped foot on their land. He and his large team found only hastily abandoned huts, indicating that the tribals fled.

However, the team could capture an elderly couple and four children, who were taken to Port Blair (Andaman Nicobar island). But all six of them fell sick due to their weak immune system and the elderly couple passed away. Portman felt it would be a great idea to drop off the children on the island with gifts. No one knows whether the children spread diseases and killed more.

This could be why the Sentinelese shot arrows and harmed a convict who escaped from the police and reached their island in 1896.

A group of anthropologists succeeded in establishing a friendly exchange with the isolated tribe in 1991. They send them gifts like coconuts, woven baskets, and more. The tribals initially hesitated and attacked the anthropologists. But accepted them after a few attempts.

The Sentinelese didn’t encourage friendship much and never invited the visitors onto their island or returned gifts. Sometimes, the visitors were welcomed by armed Sentinelese men on the beach. So the Indian government asked the anthropologists to stop their visits in 1996 and decided that the tribe preferred to be isolated.

As of now, the Indian government had banned people from visiting North Sentinel Island and trying to contact the tribe.

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I have done my graduation in history and politics. I write unique and interesting articles focused on our day to day life.

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