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article image'Paradise Lost?' One island you should not visit

By Karen Graham     Jul 21, 2015 in Travel
It's nice to know that in our modern world today, there are a few isolated spots left that could be called paradise. Lost to modern civilization, these few remaining places have managed to remain untouched. One such place is North Sentinel Island.
About the size of Manhattan, North Sentinel Island is one of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. Other than a sliver of beach surrounding the island itself, it is heavily forested. Surrounded by coral reefs, it has no natural harbors. The island would seem to be uninhabitable simply because of its protective barrier of coral.
The undisturbed appearance of the island’s forest might suggest it is uninhabited  but in fact  No...
The undisturbed appearance of the island’s forest might suggest it is uninhabited, but in fact, North Sentinel Island is home to one of the few remaining primitive tribes on Earth—hunter-gatherer tribes which have had little or no contact with modern civilization.
NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen
The island has been home to an indigenous tribe of stone-age people called the Sentinelese for the last 60,000 years. Today, it is estimated their numbers range from 240 to 400 people, but no one knows for sure because the Sentinelese are very hostile to outsiders trying to set foot on the island, and will kill anyone who tries.
To be sure, in 1967, the Indian government sent exploratory parties to the island every few years with the purpose of establishing friendly relations. The members of the exploratory party would almost always try to coax the Sentinelese out of the forest by leaving coconuts, machetes, candy, and, once, a tethered pig onto the beach. The Sentinelese always responded to these "gifts" by shooting arrows, throwing stones, and shouting at the unwelcome visitors.
This went on for a number of years without any results, and in 1997, the government decided the inhabitants were to be left alone. Progress in making sure the inhabitants were not bothered by the outside world was made in 2005, when Uddipta Ray, the tribal welfare secretary for the government, announced India would ensure the indigenous peoples of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands would be protected.
The Sentinelese really don t want people bothering them.
The Sentinelese really don't want people bothering them.
The Red Phoenix
"We will ensure their food security, the security of their habitats, we will encourage them to pursue their traditional lifestyle, there is no question of imposing any outside culture or beliefs on them," Mr Ray told the BBC. India also set up a three-mile exclusion zone around North Sentinel Island, prohibiting any intrusion by outsiders.
Saving a lost paradise from intrusion from the modern world
The Sentinelese people are what we consider "uncontacted tribes," and these tribes are a continuing source of fascination with people in the modern world. As a matter of fact, in 2006, BBC Four ran a documentary focusing on a controversial American tour operator who took big money from tourists wanting to make "first contact" with indigenous people in West Papua, New Guinea.
There are two indigenous tribes inhabiting the Andaman Islands off India. One, of course, is the Sentinelese. This tribe is probably the most isolated tribe in the world today. They are thought to be ancestors of the first human populations to emerge from Africa 60,000 years ago, and the fact that their language is so very different from other tribes in the Andaman Islands group says they have remained isolated for thousands of years.
A couple of the  great Andamanese  population  one of the 5 indigenous population of negritos from a...
A couple of the "great Andamanese" population, one of the 5 indigenous population of negritos from andaman islands (great Andamanese ; Jangil ; Jarawa ; Onge ; Sentinelese).
Edward Horace Man (1846-1929)
They are hunter-gatherers and show no signs of taking up agriculture. Remember the pig left by early exploratory groups? They killed the pig and buried it. They are not cannibalistic, either. When someone encroaches on their island, they are killed and then buried in shallow graves.
The Sentinelese also know how to make weapons using metal, scavenged from ships that have wrecked on their shores. The arrows and spears thrown at invaders, be it people or helicopters, are tipped with metal arrow and spearheads.
Civilized people might call the Sentinelese savages and murderers, but are they? When you think about it, their hostility to the outside world is perfectly normal and understandable. After all, the outside world has brought them nothing of value, except contempt and violence.
Even helicopter flyovers are met with hostility.
Even helicopter flyovers are met with hostility.
The Red Phoenix
In 1897, an elderly couple and four children were taken by force off the island and brought to the Andaman Islands' capitol, Port Blair. The colonial officer in charge of the kidnapping wrote: "Sickened rapidly, and the old man and his wife died, so the four children were sent back to their home with quantities of presents."
Nothing good has ever come from modern civilization's attempts to "westernize" or "civilize" native peoples. The only thing we have done is to bring them disease, and eventually, the downside of our modern culture, such as alcoholism, crime, and destitution. India has done more for the Sentinelese by leaving them alone than could ever be imagined.
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