Sentinelese people :
Somewhere in 21st century, where advancement in technology has brought people more close to each other than ever, there is a story which lies completely on the flip side. The story is about Sentinelese people.
Attempts to contact by the British expeditions:
In January 1880, an armed British expedition to the island led by 20-year-old Maurice Vidal Portman, arrived to conduct a survey of the island, with a motive to abduct a member of the tribe, treat them well and give them gifts, and release them back to the tribe, hoping to demonstrate friendliness. Portman's expedition of the island is believed to be the first by outsiders. Portman's expedition found an elderly couple and four children after several days. They were taken prisoner and brought to . The elderly couple became ill and died, probably from contracting diseases to which they did not have immunity. The four children were returned to the island, given gifts, and released. The children then disappeared into the jungle. After this incident, the British did not try to contact the Sentinelese again and instead focused on other tribes.
Attempts to contact by the Indian Government:
In 1967, the Indian government began a series of "Contact Expeditions" to the island. The programme was managed by the Director of Tribal Welfare and anthropologist
- The first expedition, headed by Pandit, included armed police and naval officers. The Sentinelese retreated into the jungle, and the expedition failed to make contact with any of them.
- On 29 March 1970, a research party of Indian anthropologists, which included Pandit, found themselves cornered on the reef flats between North Sentinel and Constance Island. This was followed by a strange incident:
A woman paired off with a warrior and sat on the sand in a passionate embrace. This act was being repeated by other women, each claiming a warrior for herself, a sort of community mating, as it were. Thus did the militant group diminish. This continued for quite some time and when the tempo of this frenzied dance of desire abated, the couples retired into the shade of the jungle.
Further contact attempts grew pretty violent.
Here's for instance, the next one:
In the spring of 1974, a film crew came to the island, in what was one of the most unsuccessful expeditions made on the island. North Sentinel was visited by a team of anthropologists filming a documentary entitled Man in Search of Man. The team was accompanied by armed police officers and a National Geographic photographer. When the motorized boat broke through the barrier reefs, locals emerged from the jungle. The Sentinelese responded with a curtain of arrows. The police (dressed in jackets with padded armour) landed and left gifts in the sand: a miniature plastic car, some coconuts, a live pig tied, a doll, and aluminium cookware.
The policemen returned to the boat and waited to see the locals' reaction to the gifts. The reaction was to launch another round of arrows, one of which struck the documentary's director in the left thigh. The man who wounded the director withdrew and laughed proudly, sitting in the shade while others speared, then buried, the pig and the doll. Afterwards, everyone left, taking with them only the coconuts and aluminium cookware.
In 1996, the Indian government ended the "Contact Expeditions" following a series of hostile encounters resulting in several deaths and because of the danger of introducing diseases, that might even wipe off the entire tribe.
The last contact:
The Sentinelese appeared to have emerged relatively unscathed from the , apparently managing to reach high ground. Three days following the tsunami, an Indian naval helicopter was sent to check on them and drop food on the beach. It was warned away by a Sentinelese warrior who emerged from the jungle and brandished a bow and arrow.
The Sentinelese exercise complete autonomy over their affairs and the involvement of theis restricted to occasional monitoring, even more infrequent and brief visits, and generally discouraging any access or approaches to the island.
With a heavy heart, it is something that we all have to accept, that no matter what, we shall never be able to explore the island of Sentinel and that the tribe shall remain forever in it's original state, something unaltered for millenniums.
The inhabitants shall remain unaware about the developments of the modern world, about what life has evolved into. And we, about what life was like, some 60,000 years ago.
Interesting, isn't it? That somewhere we're trying our every bit into exploring possible life-forms some billions of light years away and at the same time, have to let go something within our reaches.