Travel video of the week: Sentinelese: world’s most isolated tribe

Sentinelese are the world’s most isolated tribe. They are an uncontacted tribe living in North Sentinel Island, one of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. They vigorously reject all contact with outsiders. The Indian government abandoned altogether their plans to establish contact with Sentinelese. Many believe that it is vital to respect their wish to remain uncontacted. Contact with them could endanger this tribe as they have no immunity to common human diseases.

It is vital that their wish to remain uncontacted is respected – if not, the entire tribe could be wiped out by diseases to which they have no immunity. Contact imposed upon other Andaman tribes has had a devastating impact.

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Comments (14)

  1. Nick Dougill says:

    I think that it is just as well that the Sentinelese have such a strong sense of isolationism which is probably what will continue to preserve their lifestyle for a little longer.

    Whenever there has been contact between invaders and an indigenous population the results have been devastating. The European arrival in Central and South America in the 16th and 17th century resulted in millions of deaths and the destruction of civilisations.

    Long may the Sentinelese maintain their isolation, it is their only hope of salvation.

  2. Jen says:

    I love these weekly videos. With my phone crushed to within a few centimetres of my nose they make for a great escape from the crush of commuting. This one quite literally took me to another world. I can totally understand where the tribe are coming from.

  3. Piers says:

    I guess there’s no Wi-fi there? So far, far away from the strange lives that we lead.

  4. Karen Morris says:

    It will the ultimate tragedy if this tribe in the Andaman Islands loses its home to rising sea-levels as a consequence of global warming.

    How sad will it be, despite their reluctance to resist the modern world, if as the waters rise they have to be “rescued”?

  5. Tim says:

    I would like to know why they are so hostile though I know that it is unlikely that we will ever find out. Is it just part of their culture to be highly territorial and protect their homeland? Perhaps they have had a bad experience with visitors in the past?

    • Paul Johnson says:

      I don’t know if it’s valid, but recent press has suggested it’s down to a gentleman named Maurice Vidal Portman, a Commander who had contact with the island in the 1880s, when India was still under British Colonial rule.

      Portman was erotically obsessed with the Andamanese, and he indulged his passion for photography by kidnapping members of various tribes and posing them in mock-Greek homoerotic compositions.

      Whether that still accounts for their hostility to this day, I have no idea…

    • Jane says:

      Superb research skills! Gold star.

      That probably goes a long way towards explaining it. Over the years I expect that the islanders have built a system of myths and legends based on Portman that villefies all outsiders as the devil incarnate.

  6. Brad says:

    Yes, it is a fascinating film … maybe a little bit too fascinating. I just hope that it doesn’t prompt some macho cowboy explorers into arming themselves and calling in on the island. The Sentinelese’s wish for isolation and privacy should be protected for as long as possible.

  7. Andy says:

    I watched this last week and it keeps coming back to me. When you think about it the pace is too slow and not surprisingly a lot of the shots are blurred. Though it is all the questions and the doubts which keep rolling through my mind. I just keeping thinking about how this story is going to end and I ain’t got a clue.

  8. Louisa A. says:

    I came across a documentary talking about this tribe way back in school since we were tasked to do research about different tribes and culture from neighboring countries. One thing I realized after watching that film and reading this post just now, not all things (including people) need to change and not everything should evolve in this technologically able world. Some things are better left untouched. This is an eye-opener. This world never ceases to amaze me in different ways.

  9. Kyle Dana says:

    These types of stories are very interesting and to know that somewhere in the world, people like them really exist. What’s more fascinating about this subject is the fact that here we are living our lives in the ‘digital age’, seeing screens and technology everwhere while these people haven’t had the chance to experience atleast a little bit of it.

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