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North Sentinel Island – The Forbidden Destination

by travelmynation
North Sentinel Island

A remote region, located in the Andaman Islands, the North Sentinel Island is a forbidden place to go to for anyone in the world. Home to the Sentinelese people, the island is cut off from the modern world in ways that you can’t even imagine!

About North Sentinel Island

The island is located about 50 kms from Port Blair and is about 60 sq. kms in the area. On the map, it is a tiny speck of land and is very easy to be missed out on. Covered in dense forests, the North Sentinel Island is surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and stunning white-sand beaches. But it’s for you to enjoy though!

As far as records show, the island has always been cut off to outsiders and the Sentinelese people do not venture out as well. In 1771, a merchant ship was wrecked near the island and the sailors got on to the North Sentinel Island to take shelter. Sadly, they were attacked by the local tribes and eventually were rescued by a navy search and rescue ship!

North Sentinel Island
The Sentinels tribe guarding their island. Pic courtesy - Listverse

Falling under the Protection of Aboriginal Tribes Act of 1956, travel to the remote island is not allowed. However, there have been instances of people trying to smuggle in only to meet dire consequences. As per Indian laws governing the people of North Sentinel Island, they can’t be prosecuted for killing people!

Safe from Colonization

Dubbed to be one of the most isolated people in the world, the Sentinelese constantly reject any communication by the outside world. They are very protective of their land and their people.

North Sentinel Island
Photo on a tribesman pointing an arrow. Pic courtesy - NY Times

And for good reason too. Other islands that opened up to outsiders were colonized and their people were wiped off the map by the British. Unlike, the rest of the world’s population, the people from North Sentinel Island are not immune to even common diseases like Flu, since they have never been exposed to them.

How the Sentinelese live on North Sentinel Island

So, how do they stay alive? Well, most people in the North Sentinel Island hunt and depend on the ocean to provide them with food. The area around the island contains shallow waters and this is where they go fishing. Their boats are designed only to sail in these shallow waters and not beyond them.

Their settlements across the North Sentinel island consist of huts, temporary shelters built with whatever material they find on the island. Most of these structures resemble wooden huts with thatched roofs. Almost all of them are clustered around each other. Some of these structures also contain material that has come into the island from shipwrecks. Researchers have found the presence of metal there and the only source of it could be from ships.

Clothes are also made from natural materials and most of it consists of fiber strings. Apart from this, they have also fashioned some jewelry like necklaces, head and waist bands.

No one knows much about their diet or other aspects of their lives. The Indian government sent many teams to contact the people of the North Sentinel Island. Some of these trips included gifts to the people that include livestock, medicines, food, etc. However, they weren’t very successful as the tribes never really let anybody in.

So, what now?

It is said that the tribes have lived on the North Sentinel island for about 55,000 years. They have thrived there, survived natural calamities like the 2004 Tsunami. So, why bother them? The population looks to be healthy, disease-free and content with living in the world they have created.

Who can blame them for protecting what is theirs? In recent years, an American evangelist was killed by the tribesmen when he attempted to get into the North Sentinel Island. I mean what the hell was he even doing there?

Some people just want to be left alone and that is an idea all of us have to get used to. The age we live in offers no privacy and we are constantly peeking into the lives of others around us. And in such times, the idea of a population being cut off from all this crap is such a refreshing one!

1 comment

Abhisek Nayak March 2, 2021 - 1:03 PM

True. People are constantly peeking into the lives of others around us. Very well presented.


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