The Tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands: An Insight

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“There are no Gods, no nations, no money and no human rights, except in our collective imagination.” – Yuval Noah Harari

That is a perfectly relatable quote by the well-known historian and author of the best-selling book, ‘Sapiens’, Yuval Noah Harari describing the mind of the mankind. There have been plenty ways we humans developed with evolution, industrialization and more but not altogether, not all of us. Some of us are still light years away from the modern world.

We have heard of little villages in India that have no electricity or children starving in Africa, but only few of us know there are many such places where the tribes don’t even know the world’s existence outside their little islands and forests, let alone your latest Instagram dark mode.

Closer home, you can see plenty such tribes at the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A cluster of close to 300 islands spread out in distance from each other in the Indian Ocean is this paradise that is partially forbidden to visit even though we are in 2019. There are multiple Andaman and Nicobar tribes that inhabit here not many of us are aware of.

When I was looking at Andaman and Nicobar tour packages and saw this, I decided to find out more about them. That’s when I stumbled upon a lot of information and decided to take you through some of the interesting tribes we know here:

1. The Great Andamanese

These are the indigenous people of Andaman Island and are divided in many smaller Andaman tribes. They belong to the ‘Negrito’, a tribe believed to have arrived to this island from Africa some 60 thousand years ago. They lived here for thousands of years doing hunting, gathering fishes and other nomadic day-to-day activities until the British tried invading it. Today, most of these are either extinct or have been a bit modernized and moved into the habitable areas of the island. Yet, a few remain aloof and can be contacted only for reasons.

2. Jarawas

This tribe lives in the Southern and the Middle part of the islands. Today only 380 of them left. They were known to be one of the toughest one to crack, when the outside world tried to contact them. But eventually are now open, especially after the construction of the Great Andaman Trunk Road, which is a stretch that connects western side of the region to Port Blair and something that makes your Andaman trip easier.

3. Sentinelese

By far the most controversial and the most dangerous tribe of them all is the Sentinelese that inhabits the North Sentinel Island. The tribe here has not been open to the outside world at any cost and is known to have attacked several people who tried reaching out, including one of the tourists who was killed with arrows in the recent past. It has been declared as the ‘Hardest Place to Live’! They have been so isolated that it has been unknown as to how they live, their population, their habits and such. The Indian Government has made it illegal to visit this island and has declared to leave them alone. Any attempts are backfired by the Sentinilese Archers and that’s something you’d want to keep off of.

4. Onge

Onge is yet another tribe we are aware of and have been a subject of interest for many people. Their population today is close to 110 and they’ve been leaving close to human settlements on the islands. They are one of the most primitive tribes and are designated as the Scheduled Tribes of India. Now the government has opened schools for their children and things are a bit brighter there.

To sum it up, I’d say with great power comes great responsibility, the Peter Parker principle applies here greatly. The tribes in Andaman and Nicobar Island are ready and open to meet the outside world should be helped, but the ones that are not, we must work towards getting to them mindfully.

The reason for us to reach should be their protection, their development and not other things that most of us have already done to these tribes including deforestation in their area, bringing in people from western countries and documenting their courtships and putting them in a bad light at times.

With being good global citizens, we have the responsibility to travel mindfully and maybe each day we must aim at that! Don’t you agree?


Written by: Jinal Patel

A true explorer at heart, travelling is the one thing that keeps me alive! With advertising as my profession, everything around me inspires me to create something beautiful. When I’m not doing the above, I am busy eating and dancing my way to the moon! 

Andaman, India, Offbeat Travel

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