It”s hard to imagine that there is any place in the world world that has been untouched by modern civilization. The Internet, cell phones, and computers are now so ingrained in our culture that life without these modern conveniences seems impossible. Most people, in fact, would probably claim that they couldn”t live without them.
While this is certainly not true, it is hard to think back to a time before even toilets existed. However, that”s exactly the kind of life one completely isolated civilization is leading on a remote island.
The North Sentinel Island
North Sentinel Island is part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal Ocean. It is located between Myanmar and Indonesia and is home to a completely isolated tribe of people. This Sentinelese tribe is so hostile to external contact that the island has been dubbed the “hardest place to visit” in the world.
Very little is known about the Sentinelese. Their language, culture and settlements are all, for the most part, unknown. They live in a very dense forest, hiding them from the rest of the world. What we do know about the Sentinelese is that they are hunter-gatherers. They do not farm. Instead, they live on fruits, fish, tubers, wild pigs, lizards and honey.
In August of 1981, the ship Primrose grounded on the North Sentinel Island reef. A few days later, crewmen on the immobile vessel observed that “small black men were carrying spears and arrows and building boats on the beach.” The captain of the Primrose radioed for an urgent drop of firearms so the crew could defend themselves, but did not receive them. Heavy seas kept the islanders away from the ship. After a week, the crew were rescued by a helicopter working under contract to the Indian Oil And Natural Gas Commission
No matter who you are, if you land on this island, the locals will greet you with spears and arrows. Gifts of food and clothing are of no importance to them. They were even hostile in response to rescue missions. In the aftermath of the disastrous tsunami that had hit the Indian Ocean in December 2004, a group of rescuers reached out to the Sentinelese in an Indian Navy helicopter. They wanted to find and help survivors, although chances were slim. They tried dropping food parcels to the ground, but they were met with hostility. A sole Sentinelese warrior emerged from the dense jungle and shot an arrow at the helicopter.
Technically, India has sovereignty over North Sentinel Island. However, after several failed attempts to make friendly contact with them since 1964, the Indian government has finally backed away. All visits to the island are banned. The Indian Navy has enforced a 3-mile buffer zone to keep tourists, explorers and other meddlers away.
Researchers still salivate at the thought of studying these indigenous people, but it appears that their efforts will no longer be welcomed or granted. It”s hard to imagine living in such seclusion, but it appears that the Sentinelese prefer life that way.