Private Island

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Imagine you’re part of a tribe that’s isolated from the rest of the world. You’re oblivious to what’s happening outside your island. You’ll have no idea if the US and North Korea blow each other up, if a new celebrity sex tape comes out, or if the Toronto Maple Leafs ever end their Stanley Cup drought. You won’t know if any of these things happen because you’re doing your own thing on your little island. Now what if I told you that such a tribe exists? Don’t get too excited though, they aren’t looking for new members.

The indigenous Sentinelese tribe, located on North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean, are extremely hostile to any and all visitors. They’ve lived there in complete isolation for 60,000 years and one reason they’ve never been colonized is that they’re protected by rough seas and jagged reefs. They don’t know how to read and write but they have their own spoken language that nobody else understands.

Whenever outsiders try to get close to the island via boat or helicopter, the Sentinelese greet them with violence – either firing arrows or throwing stones at them. In 2006, two fishermen unintentionally drifted towards North Sentinel Island and the locals proceeded to kill them. When a helicopter was dispatched to recover the bodies, the locals chased the helicopter away with arrows. (What happened was that the fishermen got drunk and passed out and didn’t realize their boat had drifted into a highly dangerous territory).

In the 1970s, anthropologists tried to gift some coconuts to the tribe but they were almost killed. Many tribe members also waggled their genitals at the fleeing anthropologists. While the Sentinelese excel at genital-waggling, they’ve yet to discover the secret to making fire. Currently they wait for lightning to strike and keep the resulting embers burning for as long as possible. They are a simple hunter-gatherer society.

The Indian Government’s official policy is to leave them alone. But after the deadly earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, India was concerned about the welfare of the Sentinelese so the government sent a helicopter to make sure everything was okay. But the islanders attacked the helicopter the moment they spotted it.

In a way it’s good that the people of North Sentinel Island are left alone. First of all they don’t have to deal with all the chaos of the modern world and if we tried to introduce them to it, they would likely fall sick because they haven’t built up the immunity to certain diseases, since they’ve been isolated for their entire existence.

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