In the waters of the Indian Ocean between Myanmar and India , the Andaman Islands are located, successfully and rightfully challenging the popularity of the Maldives among the tourist tribe. There are excellent sands and reefs, as well as the rarest exoticism literally at arm's length.
For example, there are tribes for whom the Stone Age is not only ancient history, but also the practice of today.
To date, the local population is mainly limited to immigrants from mainland India, but, in addition to them, there are about 1,000 people who consider themselves descendants of the oldest inhabitants of the islands who settled here 26 thousand years ago. Where the first "colonists" came from is still unknown.
The original hypothesis was that these were the descendants of the first wave of settlers from Africa. Genetics have shown that there is a connection not only with Africans (both from the western and eastern coasts of the Black Continent), but also with the inhabitants of Siberia, Tibet and Japan.
The indigenous Andamanese are divided into several tribal groups, the largest among them are the large Andamanese. They are spread over several islands and are divided into 10 tribal unions with a high degree of assimilation. By our time, there are very few of them left, Hindi serves as their everyday language, and occupations are not only hunting and fishing, but also farming (and also bureaucracy, as an analogue of gathering).
The next ones are onge, there are about a hundred of them. According to the British, who colonized these islands, these are the most benevolent and hospitable inhabitants of the Andamans. Approximately 2/5 of the couples of local residents can not have children, and the process of childbirth itself is postponed for the period "after 30". Now they live on the lands of the reservation, occupying about 10% of the surface of the islet of Little Andaman.
Then Jarava. They are very closed, but since 1997, for some unknown reason, they began to actively turn to their sedentary neighbors, they are already learning Indian languages, seeking the help of doctors and allowing themselves to be photographed – for money, of course. There was a special school for the children of the tribe, and adults every month receive benefits from the authorities and work on plantations for growing oranges.
And then there's Sentinel. It stands alone, and no one ever comes here, although the island could easily become a paradise for surfers or fans of beach holidays. Indian laws prohibit approaching these shores, let alone going ashore. Here lives a tribe that does not want to make contact at all and is ready to prove by force of arms that it is better not to get to them.
The self-name of the people is unknown, but ethnographers and Indian authorities call them Sentinelese - by the name of the land on which they settled.
A bit of history
The tribe has been known for a relatively long time. The first mentions are found in the diaries of Marco Polo, who called the aborigines the most cruel and devoid of pity people who devour everyone in a row - it is only necessary to catch. They most likely do not practice cannibalism - there is no evidence.
But their reality is the Stone Age, they do not build fire and meet with a hail of arrows and spears of anyone who dares to appear in sight of the shore of the island belonging to them. Unlike other Andamanese, the inhabitants of Sentinel live in total isolation, and infrequent attempts to establish contact most often end in tragedy. Only one exception is known: in the mid-90s, gloomy and harsh aborigines agreed to accept several coconuts as a gift from state anthropologists. The team included a girl named Madhumala Chattopadhyay. She had dreams of studying Nicobar and Andaman since childhood and persistently followed the chosen path. To be part of the expedition, she signed a pledge not to demand compensation in the event that her life ends on the journey - or if she returns alive, but takes on the resemblance of a needle pad.
When a group of researchers approached the island, they began to throw coconuts into the water. This culture does not grow on the island, but curious aborigines caught a few, and then returned again. Only men did this, and the children and the female part of the tribe stood in the distance and watched.
A month later, a second meeting took place: the inhabitants of Sentinel came without weapons and got into a boat to get their legitimate bag of nuts. However, despite the friendliness shown by the locals this time, everything almost ended tragically when one of the anthropologists touched the decoration of leaves around the neck of one of the islanders. After that, the guests had to hurriedly leave.
The third meeting was disrupted by bad weather - no one came to the shore, and then the Indian authorities decided to close the islands to visitors. Anthropologists supported the decision: people lived here for thousands of years, they did not know the problems until they came into contact of the third kind with Europeans and Indians. Many have fallen ill with an infectious infection, because no one has immunity against even the simplest diseases here.
The authorities forbade to appear here not only because they want to protect tourists from attack. Rather, on the contrary, they protect the locals. Since the XVIII century, the number of inhabitants of the Andamans has been decreasing, which is associated with the development of the islands of the archipelago, the infections introduced and the destruction of tribal lands due to felled forests and poaching. Already a quarter of a century ago, many tribes were classified as dangerously close to the threat of extinction. Some subsequently disappeared.
The number of residents of Sentinel is difficult to determine. According to various sources, it ranges from 15 to 600 people.