cover the Jarawa Tribe of the Andaman Islands
An Unbroken Lineage
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
In a world unlike ours, they wear no fancy clothes and have never heard of cars. Their homes are barely shelters, perhaps leaves held up by bamboo, providing little if any cover. They dance along the beach, until all hours of the night, rituals and celebrations are just their way of welcoming the night. When the sun slides across the moon, and the daylight takes its turn, they retreat into the jungle. where no one not like them, has dared to ever tread. Savages, has long been how they are referred, and because they have black skin, more than likely worse, but the mongers will never tell. A few photographs prove they exist, and a caring nation assures they are not extinct. No matter what picture the civilized world decides to paint, the people of North Sentinel Island have proven they are no cowards and their way of living is a choice, not a random, natural mistake.
In the Bay of Bengal, off the tip of India’s shores, lies the Andaman Islands, an archipelago combined with the Nicobar Islands, that remains an Indian territory. Undiscovered, vast and naturally beautiful, making it a unique region, scarcely matched anywhere else on Mother Earth. But a tiny, speck of an island, 25 miles off India’s territorial shores, sits a nation so small, who but the Sentinelese would ever call it home.
A mere 27.8 square miles, (72 km) North Sentinel Island is just a tad bit larger than the entire city of Providence, Rhode Island. The indigenous population, known formally as the Sentinelese, have ruled this tiny nation, for more than 60,000 years. Ancestors arrived from Africa, on a voyage to a new world, somehow finding paradise and making their claim to their own little world. The descendants have remained unchanged, from their height to their hair, and their ebony colored skin. If the homogeneous colony were not rare enough, they have made no advancements, living the exact same way, hunting and gathering, content with a devout pureness, oblivious to the techno savvy world.
However, the outside world was not content without having the tiny speck. So they staked a claim, under the guise of righteousness, by falsely claiming they were less than human and needed some help.
First contact proved disastrous. Storming the island, kidnapping a portion of the clan, then taking the captives on a voyage to a scary and mysterious land. A violent illness quickly sickened the adults, as they were introduced to diseases they had developed no immunity to fight. Yet, civility would make an appearance, sparing the last uncontacted tribe from complete annihilation The Indian Government would order the stronger children to be returned home, leaving the weak and sickened adults to die, alone and afraid in a world that made no sense. The deaths to the adults, would sear deep into the hearts and souls of the Sentinelese people, who would use, what we would call, primitive markings, to denote in their history, as the time and place, the outside world had declared war.
Peace would remain for a few years, allowing the Sentinelese to retreat into the forests, governing a country, not quite like ours. The nation of India would force their control, announcing that North Sentinel belonged to them, and with a profound sense of grace, allowed the Sentinelese to remain independent and governors of their own fate.
In early February 2006, a boat containing two drunken fisherman, was picked up by ocean swells, drifted through the protective zone, crashing into the island itself. Loin cloths covering their groin, long spears grasped in their hands, the Sentinelese men, now an army, numbering between 15 – 100, charged out of the jungle, primitive some say, they were actually soldiers, protecting their women, children and their nations’ shores.
A helicopter arrived some days later, to search for the bodies of the fishermen to take back to their countries, so their families could lay them to rest. But under the swelter of an Indian Ocean sky, this time, it was the Sentinelese army, that struck the first blow. Hurling spears at the strange machine. that flew in the sky, shouting with threatening gestures, using all the weapons in their arsenal, but in reality, they are a tender but helpless people, for even against a single helicopter, they would have never stood a chance.
Taken like lambs once before, decimating their already small numbers, this brave group of human beings, perhaps direct descendants of Adam or Eve, who trace their lineage through a single, straight line, for thousands of generations, made a vow, that if the intruders ever came again, they would fight to the death, then be captured and made into one of them.
written & edited by Kendall F. Person