Andaman Sentinelese: Pre Neolithic Tribe (Download PDF)


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American was killed w/arrows by tribal people of restricted island of Andaman. Sentinelese people who live in small forested island are known to resist all contact w/outsiders, often attacking anyone who comes near.

Image of Andaman Sentinelese

Image of Andaman Sentinelese

Image of Andaman Sentinelese

Sentinelese, a Negrito Tribe in North Sentinel Island:

  • Sentinelese, a negrito tribe who live on North Sentinel Island of Andamans, have not faced incursions & remain hostile to outsiders.

  • Inhabitants are connected to Jarawa on basis of physical, as well as linguistic similarities.

  • Based on carbon dating of kitchen middens by Anthropological Survey of India, Sentinelese presence was confirmed in islands to 2,000 years ago.

  • Genome studies indicate that Andaman tribes could have been on islands even 30,000 years ago.

  • Sentinelese are pre-Neolithic people, who have inhabited North Sentinel Island for estimated 55,000 years, w/o contact w/outside World.

  • Sentinelese & other aboriginal tribes are protected under “Andaman & Nicobar Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation, 1956”.

  • Having lived in isolation in island in Bay of Bengal for thousands of years, Sentinelese have no immunity or resistance to even commonest of infections.

  • They are short statured possibly due to “island effect” that causes genetic limitation over time.

  • Various degrees of protection are in place for indigenous people of A&N Islands, but it is complete in case of Sentinelese.

Protection of Sentinelese

  • GoI issued Andaman & Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956 to declare traditional areas occupied by tribes as reserves & prohibited entry of all persons except those w/authorization.

  • Photographing or filming tribe members is offence. Rules were amended later to enhance penalties. But restricted area permits were relaxed for some islands recently.

  • Sentinelese’s language is so far understood by no other group & they have traditionally guarded their island fiercely, attacking most intruders w/spears & arrows.

  • Arrows were fired even at govt. aircraft that flew over island after 2004 Tsunami.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs is implementing scheme namely “Development of PVTGs” which covers 75 identified PVTGs among Scheduled Tribes in 18 States/UT of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

  • Priority is assigned to PVTGs under schemes of Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Scheme (TSS), Grants under Article 275 (1) of Constitution, Grants-in-aid to Voluntary Organisations.

Criteria Was Categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs

  • Pre-agriculture level of technology

  • Stagnant or declining population

  • Extremely low literacy

  • Subsistence level of economy

  • This is despite laws like Andaman & Nicobar Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Regulation (1956). There is Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti, special policy for Jarawas framed in 2004 & dedicated Protection Police.

Declining Immunity of Tribal Resulted in Their Declining Population

  • Large chunk of population of 10 Great Andamanese tribes was wiped out after indigenous peoples caught syphilis, measles, & influenza on epidemic scale following contact w/early settlers.

  • B/w 1998 & 2004, when Jarawa started to respond to state, all govt. hospitals bordering their reserve opened special wards to treat them for infections.

  • Govt. gave up in mid-1990s, & in order to safeguard their health & sovereignty, decided that no one could enter 5-km buffer zone around their island, which was already out of bounds.

  • There are more than 100 uncontacted tribes around World & most of them are in Amazon forest of South America & New Guinea, island off Australia.

  • North Sentinel Island was protected area & not open to tourists. “Exact population of tribe is not known, but it is declining. Govt. has to protect them. “

  • Poachers are known to fish illegally in waters around island, catching turtles & diving for lobsters & sea cucumbers.

  • Various degrees of protection are in place for indigenous people of A&N Islands, but it is complete in case of Sentinelese. Administration enforces ‘eyes-on & hands-off’ policy to ensure that no poachers enter island”.

- Published/Last Modified on: January 21, 2019

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