Skip to comments.Stone Age Tribe Kills Fishermen Who Strayed On To Island
Posted on 02/07/2006 5:58:05 PM PST by blam
Stone Age tribe kills fishermen who strayed on to island
By Peter Foster in New Delhi
One of the world's last Stone Age tribes has murdered two fishermen whose boat drifted on to a desert island in the Indian Ocean.
The Sentinelese, thought to number between 50 and 200, have rebuffed all contact with the modern world, firing a shower of arrows at anyone who comes within range.
Sentinelese tribesmen prepare to fire arrows at the coastguard helicopter after the fishermen's murder
They are believed to be the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world to remain isolated and appear to have survived the 2004 Asian tsunami.
The two men killed, Sunder Raj, 48, and Pandit Tiwari, 52, were fishing illegally for mud crabs off North Sentinel Island, a speck of land in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands archipelago.
Fellow fishermen said they dropped anchor for the night on Jan 25 but fell into a deep sleep, probably helped by large amounts of alcohol.
During the night their anchor, a rock tied to a rope, failed to hold their open-topped boat against the currents and they drifted towards the island.
Tribesmen clamber over the fishermen's beached boat
"As day broke, fellow fishermen say they tried to shout at the men and warn them they were in danger," said Samir Acharya, the head of the Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology, an environmental organisation.
"However they did not respond - they were probably drunk - and the boat drifted into the shallows where they were attacked and killed."
After the fishermen's families raised the alarm, the Indian coastguard tried to recover the bodies using a helicopter but was met by the customary hail of arrows.
Photographs shot from the helicopter show the near-naked tribesmen rushing to fire. But the downdraught from its rotors exposed the two fisherman buried in shallow graves and not roasted and eaten, as local rumour suggested.
Mr Acharya said the erroneous belief in the tribe's cannibalism grew from the practice of another tribe, the Onge, who would cut up and burn their dead to avoid them returning as evil spirits.
"People saw the flesh cooking on the fire and thought they must be cannibals but this incident clearly contradicts that belief," he said.
Attempts to recover the bodies of the two men have been suspended, although the Andaman Islands police chief, Dharmendra Kumar, said an operation might be mounted later.
"Right now, there will be casualties on both sides," he said from Port Blair. "The tribesmen are out in large numbers. We shall let things cool down and once these tribals move to the island's other end we will sneak in and bring back the bodies."
Environmental groups urged the authorities to leave the bodies and respect the three-mile exclusion zone thrown around the island.
In the 1980s and early 1990s many Sentinelese were killed in skirmishes with armed salvage operators who visited the island after a shipwreck. Since then the tribesmen have remained virtually undisturbed.
DNA analysis of another tribe, the Jarawa, whose members made first contact with the outside world in 1997, suggest that the tribesmen migrated from Africa around 60,000 years ago.
However, the experience of the Jarawa since their emergence - sexual exploitation, alcoholism and a measles epidemic - has encouraged efforts to protect the Sentinelese from a similar fate.
wonder what religion they prescribe to
Some sort of indigenous unique form of animism.
When they mean isolated, they mean ISOLATED. They literally haven't had the slightest exposure to any organized religion of any kind.
wonder how they would react if we drew some cartoons about them
At first I thought the article was describing the Kennedy family compound on Martha's Vineyard. Then I realized this tribe was far more advanced than most liberals.
And we thought the Fish and Game Laws in the States were tough.
That is disgusting. I say we send the enviro-nuts to that island.
Native Andamanese Islanders are mostly Christians. But I doubt that little fact has any bearing in this case.
Sounds like some civilized Muslims.
LOL! "Please stay on the line, your call is important to us."
GILLIGAN ! GILLIGAN? WHERE ARE YOU LITTLE BUDDY? :-)
The relatives are restless tonight.
They seem to be expressing a desire to be left alone, one which I would respect.
Given the circumstances - No, it does not.
Raiding crab traps or running another man's trotline is a definite no no! ;)
If they remain isolated with only 50 to 200 individuals, inbreeding will cause them to begin to die out in about 5 generations.
Inherited genetic diseases and infertility will become more prominent live births will become less frequent.
These tribes actually do fare poorly when they start having contact with the modern world...the various disasters that befall them aren't made up.
:) :) :)
No outside contact. No treaties. No trade. No external hostile acts. Their island. Their rules.
Leave them alone.
Let the fisherman's bodies rot.
The Andaman & Nicobar Islands form the southernmost territorial possesions of India. The Nicobar chain of islands are largely untouched. Barring a few Indian military bases, most of the islands that are inhabited, are peopled by native tribes who refuse any outside contact.
Most are extremely primitive, and are considered savage and brutal to outsiders. The Indian Government allows people to visit these islands only after explicit permission is sought from the federal government.
This contradicts nothing, have they not heard of a clam bake. They were getting ready for marinaded curry.
Tribal trauma - The Andaman story
Four negrito tribal groups which inhabit the Andaman and Nicobar islands face extinction today due to large-scale developmental activities in the region. PANKAJ SEKHSARIA sounds a note of caution.
THE Andaman and Nicobar islands today are a stark illustration of the problems that tribal groups, who lived comfortably in their natural environment, face when confronted with ``development''. Four negrito tribal groups - the Great Andamanese, the Onge, the Jarawa and the Sentinelese inhabit the Andaman islands. Their background and origin is unclear and continues to be a subject of speculation among scholars and anthropologists. Their past remains obscure, the present clearly unpleasant and the future grim, and uncertain.
For the Great Andamanese, the story is all but over. They have been virtually wiped off the surface of the earth. This was the community that was first befriended by the outside world following the establishment of the British penal colony in 1858. The British used the Great Andamanese both for searching the convicts who escaped from the Cellular jail and in fighting other hostile tribes in the islands, particularly the Jarawa. An Andaman home was established to educate and ``civilise'' them.
The results started showing up soon. Isolated for centuries, the Great Andamanese had no resistance against some of the commonest diseases. Epidemics of pneumonia in 1868, measles in 1877, influenza in 1896, and syphillis killed them by the hundreds. Addiction to tobacco and liquor took an additional toll. From an estimated 5,000 individuals in the 19th Century, the population of the Great Andamanese is down to only 28 today and there is really no hope that they will revive. The British can well be blamed for the fate of the Great Andamanese, but the fact is that even after Independence things never really improved.
Independent India's official plan for the `colonisation' of the Andaman and Nicobar islands was put in place in the Sixties. Thousands of settlers from mainland India were brought in, completely disregarding the rights of the indigenous communities.
The 730 sq.km. island of Little Andaman, the only and exclusive home of the Onge, was specially chosen.. It was suggested that large areas of forest be clear-felled for the establishment of settlements, for agriculture, and for large-scale commercial plantations. The timber from the felled forests could then fuel the timber-based units that would be set up to support the settler populations.
Fortunately, the scale at which these developmental activities were planned and proposed could never be attained. A red oil palm plantation was created over an area of 1600 hectares but was never expanded. Logging started and is present even today, but it never really took off to the scale suggested. Whereas 12,000 settler families were expected to be brought into Little Andaman, today the number is only around 3000 families.
Despite this, the damage to the environment has been significant. Deforestation, in particular, has had evident effects. Scientific studies in the late Eighties clearly established that soil erosion from clear-felled forest areas resulted in the death of corals in the surrounding seas. Habitat destruction and excessive poaching by the settlers has resulted in a sharp decline in the numbers of the endemic species such as the Andaman Wild Pig, endangered sea turtles that nest on the island's beaches and the dugong that was once common in the coastal waters. All these creatures are not just vital sources of food for the Onge, they also play an integral role in their culture and society. Their unavailability leaves gaps for the Onge that cannot be filled.
The Andaman Adim Jan Jati Vikas Samiti (The Andaman Tribal Welfare Society), AAJVS, and the administration has also tried to encourage the hunter, gatherer, nomadic Onge to change their traditional lifestyle and move into the settlements that were created for them. It was and continues to be a blatant attempt to get more and easier access to the land and timber resources of the island.
Simultaneously, as a welfare measure, free doles were offered to the Onge by the AAJVS; milk powder, rice, dal, bread, biscuits, even tobacco which was given at the rate of 250 gms for each adult. The Onge have been systematically weaned away from their nutrient rich, traditional diets (but as these natural resources are not available, do the Onge really have any choice but to turn to the government handouts?) and have become increasingly dependent on the government handouts to meet their needs.
The settlers went a step further, introducing alcohol to these people. It is an addiction that has strangled the Onge, making them much more susceptible to exploitation. Precious resources like honey, resins, ambergris and turtle eggs are now exchanged by them for the ubiquitous bottle popularly known as 180.
Arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity characterise the attitude of the dominant civilisation towards the Onge. It is an attitude that prevent us from even acknowledging the great knowledge that the Onge have, leave alone learning from it. The Onge are expert navigators and make excellent, sea worthy outrigger canoes. They have knowledge of a plant that may have a cure for the dreaded disease of cerebral malaria and another, whose extract they use of sedate bees when extracting honey from their hives. Examples like these are fascinating but sadly, today it is the very survival of these people that is at stake. Destruction of their lands and their forests coupled with cultural domination has broken the spirit of the Onge. From an estimated population of 670 at the turn of the century, their number today is only about a hundred and it is anybody's guess how long they will be able to survive.
That brings us to the Jarawa and the Sentinelese with estimated population of 250 and 100 individuals respectively. Both these communities have so far escaped the fate of the Great Andamanese and the Onge because of their extreme hostility and distrust of modern civilisation. Though the Sentinelese are still secure, things are now changing for the Jarawa.
In October, 1997, for the first time ever, the extremely hostile Jarawas came out from the forests to interact with the settler populations. The official explanation was that the Jarawas are facing an acute shortage of food in their territory and it is hunger that has driven them out. It was a very convenient explanation and ignored the policies that the administration has followed over the past few decades. Like the Onge, the Jarawas too have been pushed in from all sides. On the one hand, the AAJVS and the administration tried to befriend the Jarawas, using the friendly `contact missions' to offer them gifts of coconut and bananas, a strategy akin to bribery or even to the practise of scattering grain to ensnare birds.
On the other hand, virtual war was declared on their territory, forests and resources. Large areas of forests were cleared for the settlements of mainlanders. The Andaman Trunk Road was constructed that cut through the heart of Jarawa territory and huge - scale logging operations continue even today, moving further and further into the forest home of the Jarawa. The Jarawas, who once freely roamed the length and breadth of the Andaman islands are now confined to a small 720 sq.km. Jarawa reserve on the western coast.
The area of the Jarawa reserve has some of the best and largest sources of timber that still survive in the islands. With the subversion of their hostility, it is now hoped that it will all become available for extraction. Already mining of sand from the beaches within the Jarawa reserve has begun, something that was inconceivable a couple of years ago.
The settler communities were amused, even excited by the initial Jarawa forays into their settlements. Now they are getting irritated and the Jarawas are increasingly being looked upon as intruders. Conflict situations are on the rise and Jarawas who came out into the settlements have reportedly been thrashed by the incensed settlers.
Settlers have been seen offering tobacco and gutkha to the Jarawas and it is a matter of time before liquor follows. Jarawas, wearing soiled clothes dancing to the tune of Hindi film music, munching away at a packet of uncle Chipps'?. These are not just possibilities. Scenes like this are now regularly reported from the islands and this is only the beginning.
Disease destroyed the Great Andamanese, the Onge are just about surviving, the Jarawas appear to have taken their first step. But the lessons are still not learnt. The Andaman tribes may have survived through the 20th Century, but only just. Considering the present situation, it is unlikely the same will be said of these tribes at the end of the next century.
Dr. Simron Jit Singh (top picture, right) watches a pig fight with friends. Dr. Singh has been visiting and doing research in the islands since 1999.
Great Nicobar and its population reddish area: cocentration of Nicobari population in the 1990s
red dots: main Indian settlements
black dots: Shompen settlements in the 1990s
black circles: abandoned Shompen settlements in the 1990s
black line: road
"Ah.. these are the ones that do the Dell Service Line when I call I bet."
Barring the extinction and displacement of native tribes, the Andaman & Nicobar islands have some of the best unspoiled beaches in the world.
Cilivisation is the LAST thing they need.
No. You're wrong. They need to become civilised like us. You know childhood obesity, big govnerment telling them to register their hunting spears, cigarettes, and McDonald's and maybe even Starbucks. Walmart also!
Rumor has it the Eaker Tribe responds in a like manner if ya get on their lawn......
/sarc, of course
hey there :-)
Stone Age cultures survive tsunami waves
Indian islanders apparently heeded ancient lore
PORT BLAIR, India - Two days after a tsunami thrashed the island where his ancestors have lived for tens of thousands of years, a lone tribesman stood naked on the beach and looked up at a hovering coast guard helicopter.
He then took out his bow and shot an arrow toward the rescue chopper.
It was a signal the Sentinelese have sent out to the world for millennia: They want to be left alone. Isolated from the rest of the world, the tribesmen needed to learn nature's sights, sounds and smells to survive.
Government officials and anthropologists believe that ancient knowledge of the movement of wind, sea and birds may have saved the five indigenous tribes on the Indian archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar islands from the tsunami that hit the Asian coastline Dec. 26.
A Sentinelese man aims his bow and arrow at an Indian Coast Guard helicopter as it flies over his island on Dec. 28, surveying for tsunami damage. Circumstantial evidence suggests the indigenous tribes of the southern archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar used ancient know-how to save themselves from the catastrophic tsunami.
Anthropological Survey of India / AP Three boys from the Jawara tribe in India's Andaman and Nicobar archipelago pose in a photo released by the Anthropological Survey of India.
"They can smell the wind. They can gauge the depth of the sea with the sound of their oars. They have a sixth sense which we don't possess," said Ashish Roy, a local environmentalist and lawyer who has called on the courts to protect the tribes by preventing their contact with the outside world.
Frozen in the Paleolithic past
The tribes live the most ancient, nomadic lifestyle known to man, frozen in their Paleolithic past. Many produce fire by rubbing stones, fish and hunt with bow and arrow and live in leaf and straw community huts. And they don't take kindly to intrusions.
Anil Thapliyal, a commander in the Indian coast guard, said he spotted the lone tribesman on the island of Sentinel, a 23-square-mile (60-square-kilometer) key, on Dec. 28.
"There was a naked Sentinelese man," Thapliyal told The Associated Press. "He came out and shot an arrow at the helicopter."
According to varying estimates, there are only about 400 to 1,000 members alive today from the Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, Sentinelese and Shompens. Some anthropological DNA studies indicate the generations may have spanned back 70,000 years. They originated in Africa and migrated to India through Indonesia, anthropologists say.
It appears that many tribesman fled the shores well before the waves hit the coast, where they would typically be fishing at this time of year.
After the tsunami, local officials spotted 41 Great Andamanese out of 43 in a 2001 Indian census who had fled the submerged portion of their Strait Island. They also reported seeing 73 Onges out of 98 in the census who fled to highland forests in Dugong Creek on the Little Andaman island, or Hut Bay, a government anthropologist said.
However, the fate of the three other tribes won't be known until officials complete a survey of the remote islands this week, he said. The government reconnaissance mission will also assess how the ecosystem most crucially, the water sources has been damaged.
'Islands of the cannibals'
Taking surveys of these areas is dangerous work.
The more than 500 islands across a 3,200-square-mile (8,288-square-kilometer) chain in the southern reaches of the Bay of Bengal appear at first glance to be a tropical paradise. But even one of the earliest visitors, Marco Polo, called the atolls "the land of the head hunters." Roman geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus called the Andamans the "islands of the cannibals."
The Sentinelese are fiercely protective of their coral reef-ringed terrain. They used to shoot arrows at government officials when they came ashore and offered gifts of coconuts, fruit and machetes on the beach.
The Jarawas had armed clashes with authorities until the 1990s, killing several police officers.
Samir Acharya, head of the independent Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology, said the Jarawas were peaceful until the British, and later the Indians, began encroaching on their territory. Thousands of bow-wielding Jarawas were killed by British bullets in 1859.
Over the past few years, however, relations have improved and some friendly contacts have been made. The government has banned interaction with the tribes, and even taking their pictures is an offense. Many tribe members have visited Port Blair, capital of the Indian-administered territory, and a few Great Andamanese and Onges work in government offices.
Outsiders are forbidden from interacting with the tribesmen because such contact has led in the past to alcoholism and disease among the islanders, and sexual abuse of local women.
"They have often been sexually exploited by influential people they give the tribal women ... sugar, a gift wrapped in a colored cloth that makes them happy, and that's it," said Roy.
One of the most celebrated stories of a tribal man straddling both worlds is that of En-Mai, a Jarawa teenager brought to Port Blair in 1996 after he broke his leg. Six months later, he looked like any urban kid, in a T-shirt, denim jeans and a reversed baseball cap. But he is back on his island now, having shunned Western ways.
"He took to the ways ... out of a certain novelty," said Acharya. "It's like eating Chinese food on a weekend."
© 2006 MSNBC.com
But... they INVITED me!
No phones, no lights, no motor cars, not a single luxury.
"Blimey Peachy!... Do you think we should put up more NO FISHING signs?"
As a kid in NYC, I was always scared about accidentally stumbling into the turf of the Jackson Whites. :-)
Pre-neolithic? 50-200? They're probably down to one helix of DNA by now.