The world's last Stone Age tribe lives on North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean, and they are known for defending their island against all visitors. Because they have been living in isolation for 60,000 years, there is genetically a direct line between them and their pre-Neolithic ancestors.

The world's last Stone Age tribe lives on North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean, and they are known for defending their island against all visitors. Because they have been living in isolation for 60,000 years, there is genetically a direct line between them and their pre-Neolithic ancestors.


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They've always fascinated me, and it seems really cool that they still exist with everything going on in society.


It’s kind of beautiful that they are still able to retain their cultural identity and way of life without interference.


That's because the Indian government blocks access to them and leaves them alone, once it was ascertained that they really did not want to be contacted, and that it would put them at risk to do so.


Actually curious, does the tribe there also voluntarily stay on that island? Has any of them sent anyone out on boats or something to explore? Or are they solely set on living there?


Solely set on living there. They attack anyone that approaches (some theorize that this is a learned response to a previous intruder having brought disease).


Well attacking people seems to be working quite well for them lol. It was a good geopolitical strategy.


Always has been.


That didn't stop a stupid missionary from trying and then getting killed by arrow when he attempted to kayak to the island in 2018 to spread his religion there.


What was that dude's plan anyway? It's not like he would be able to communicate with them. We don't know their language and they don't know our languages.


And his diseases


I think there has been interference, but they squash it. Is this not the tribe that shot and killed that missionary a year or two ago?


Yes it is. They gave him warnings to stay away from them. He ignored their warnings and got himself killed.


[Here’s](https://www.outsideonline.com/2400030/john-allen-chau-life-death-north-sentinel#close) a good read.


Gah damn that was a long read for just browsing Reddit and finding a rabbit hole.


No shit, when I saw how long it was I didn’t even want to read it but I couldn’t stop


That article was very informative, thank you. It mentioned that he took a 9-week course on learning unknown languages. Not gonna lie. That confused me on so many levels.


I would assume that course would focus on how to establish a way to communicate, probably along the lines holding a coconut or something and just saying COCONUT while pointing at it a bunch. Then pointing at other stuff.


As an English speaker, when we encounter an unknown language such as French we just say the same thing again but louder and angrier.


Tbf that's what frenchies (and germans) do all over the world too - try telling a German speaking to you "no german/Kein Deutsch" and they just laugh and go "jaja klar wollen sie nicht eine knopfen haben früstuck sehr gut haha".


Wow that was great. Thanks for sharing. Very detailed reporting. I felt the author really framed up John's mindset very well.


Thanks very much for this. Great read. Turns out that a headline and the ensuing, usual, snarkiest line on the internet contest doesn’t really give much of a picture of what happened here.


This was phenomenal!


Hi, I live in the same island group as the Sentinels, it’s called the Andaman Islands. We had a lot of tribes here spread all across the islands, but there was a war known as the Battle of Aberdeen 1859, the British vs the Native tribes which wiped out half of the population. The other half scattered to various islands, some of them died due to diseases brought by the foreigners, and some integrated into the mainstream society. Sentinelese we’re spread across the southern part of the Andaman Group of Islands, but today are the last remaining people who had found refuge in one island where they still follow their original lifestyle. The islands is forbidden to be visited, but in 2018 one American Missionary tried to get access to the land to convert the people there. And as fate would have it, they killed him and buried him on the beach.


How did they survive the tsunami?!


[The islanders would typically have been fishing when the tsunami struck. However post-tsunami surveys of North Sentinel Island suggest the tribe survived the disaster intact, perhaps retreating from the shore well before the waves hit](https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Proba-1/Tsunami_leaves_tribal_island_high_in_the_water ).


As soon as it reached their shores, they killed it.


i just cant help but wonder if theres ever been one of them that pulled a protagonist and thought 'i wonder what its like out there.... in that great beyond world' and snuck off to see what it was like out here if so... i wonder which one they liked more


Probably died immediately after catching the common cold


They did, the British kidnapped a few and they died in a few days from common non fatal illnesses because their immune system isn't acclimated to a wide range of bacteria and viruses


Classic British


C’mon lads, stiff upper lip.


That'd be a cool movie. I'm sure someone will tell me it's been done.


It's like those axe-men I forget to update in Civ.


The scout that never came back


He's chilling next to Germany and India, praying Gandi doesn't see him.


late game tribal village has shared nuclear fission with you


I once had a scout on auto explore get stuck because another civ city got the tile for a mountain chokepoint. I was Venice so I didn't want war as it would mess up my trade routes, but they also didn't want to give me open borders for a reasonable price, so the scout just sat.


You didn’t delete it to save $ in unit maintenance?


I was Venice, and I had like 26 trade routes. Saving 1 unit of maintenance is irrelevant. Especially against AI.


Like the scout that leaves the mud brick town to charter the world and returns with a map of the circumnavigated world to a sprawling metropolis.


The residents of North Sentinel Island are protected by law and the official position of the Indian government is that they be left alone. No one is allowed to visit them.


Isn’t this the population that will kill you on site?


Well, any attempt to communicate to them that we don’t want to hurt them would result in their death by disease, so it’d be pretty hard to get them to warm up to us... and frankly probably counterintuitive. So long as nobody can get there, nobody can kill them




I've Got A lovely Bunch Of Self-preservation


Deedly deedly


There they are standing with their bows


Bum bum bum


Big arrows, small arrows, all riddled his head


Give em a twist, a flick of the wrist, and oop, intruder's dead.


Oh, I never had to do this for Mufasa..




That was back in the....90s I want to say? First and only time the tribe actually waded out and interacted with the outside world. The group of researchers got all boned up but were never really welcomed again. There are other islands in that area that also had tribes like this one; they did end up 'accepting' the attempts of modern society to pull them out of their dark ages. Besides contracting diseases, they all pretty much became listless alcoholics, now selling trinkets on the side of the road. Far from the mighty warriors they once were. The(nat Geo? BBC?) writer who wrote the amazing article I read said it was a real bummer, the photos showed them just laying around in old Nike t shirts like they really had no purpose anymore. I want to say besides the missionaries that all descended there was probably some sort of resource to be exploited on the islands. I can't remember the articles/you tube videos I saw but I spent an entire Sunday learning about this tribe and their neighbors. I believe the government of whatever country this is technically in finally said to just leave them alone. Edit: it's the [Jarawa](https://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/jarawa) tribe on the neighboring island in the Andaman islands in India as fellow redditors were kind enough to point out.


got a link? sounds like a story id like to read


True. I’m pretty sure there was a guy who paddled over there at point and was immediately killed


Yeah, a missionary who ignored any and all warnings


The guys father said he was stupid for doing it and didn’t want any attempt at retrieving his body. Not that anyone was going to try.


Really? That’s pretty impressive for a father to acknowledge that and not scream for blood


I absolutely love my kid, but if he dies on Sentinel Island then his ass is staying there.


I tell my kid this every day before he starts first grade - Have a good day son, be good in school! Don't go to Sentinel island, and don't try to talk to any Sentinelese! Make sure you wear sunscreen!


Goodnight Wesley. Good work. Sleep well. The Sentinelese will most likely kill you in the morning.


Like my mom said through grit teeth 'we are all on different paths'


He knew his kid well. No more evidence was needed.


Yep, he was riddled with arrows from head to toe.


So he got to meet St. Sebastian?


Look at you with the jokes over here. Who are you, Saint Lawrence or somethin?


Not the first either iirc


I believe it's because the North Sentinalese people were kind to visitors before and some of their tribe got killed, so now their official policy is trust no one.


Considering most of human history, that's probably a good call.


"In 1880, in an effort to establish contact with the Sentinelese, Royal Navy officer Maurice Vidal Portman, who was serving as a colonial administrator to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, led an armed group of Europeans along with convict-orderlies and Andamanese trackers (whom they had already befriended) to North Sentinel Island. On their arrival, the islanders fled into the treeline. After several days of futile search, during which they found abandoned villages and paths, Portman's men captured six individuals, an elderly man and woman and four children. The man and woman died of illness shortly after their arrival in Port Blair and the children began to fall ill as well. Portman hurriedly sent the children back to the North Sentinel Island with a large quantity of gifts to establish friendly relations and noted their "peculiarly idiotic expression of countenance, and manner of behaving". It is theorized\[by whom?\] that the illness introduced by the returning children forms part of the reason the Sentinelese are hostile towards outsiders" there you go this is the reason they are hostile to any outsider's


Yeah, these people have been so isolated for so long, a common cold virus is probably like super Covid for them. It has been typical for native island peoples to lose 90% of their populations after making contact with Europeans.


They actually fired a bunch of warning shots at him but he kept trying to land on the beach and approach them. Eventually they shot him with arrows.


That guy paddled over there after already having been run off by their arrows once before.


The whole situation makes me wonder if this is (hypothetically, of course) why we haven't made contact with extra terrestrial life. We would still be pretty primative to a life form that had mastered instellar travel. Maybe there is some kind of intergalactic law that prohibits other lifeforms to contact us.. And maybe the so-called alien encounters we've had so far, are just missionary's trying to convert us to pastafarians or some such...


In Star Trek there’s a law about this and it’s called the Prime Directive. I believe there was a specific episode (TNG) where they accidentally made contact with an isolated planet and had to make them all forget it ever happened.




I remember that one, but there are a number of episodes where they break the prime directive. One was where they moved one population to another planet using the holodeck to make them think they were on their own planet till it was done. There was that other one where, if I remember correctly, was about a civilization that had created warp technology for the first time. The Enterprise was chosen to make first contact and the government of the planet decided they didn’t want it to happen. I think they took the scientist who created it away so she could see the universe.




Yeah, that last one was a sad but highly realistic episode of how the scientist reacted vs how the government reacted. Iirc one of the government officials tried to kill himself and make it look like Riker did it, to try and destroy any chance of diplomatic interaction. He failed, got caught, and the head of the government decided that maybe their people wasn't ready to be part of a larger galactic community yet. Then he gave permission for the scientist lady who was working on warp drive to go with the Enterprise and fulfill her dream of seeing the rest of the galaxy.


Please…how many times did they violate the Prime Directive


Per season? Or per episode?


Look, they're not so much Directives, as guidelines.


Found Janeway’s account


What would be the single non-Stone Age piece of tech that would most quickly violate the Prime Directive and bring them into modern times, if dropped onto their island?


This reminds me of the cargo cult in the Pacific Islands. When US planes dropped supplies from planes and some people started worshipping the gods that dropped Spam etc.


I think I read once that after WW2, Papua New Guinian tribes people were found marching around an abandoned airfield in an attempt to recreate the ritual they'd witnessed the military performing to summon planes.


God, that thought is insane to me. That during the biggest war in the history of the world, one that involved tens of millions of people and weapons of unfathomable power, there were still tribes continuing their lives completely unaware of it.


There was a family in Russia that fled the Soviet purges deep into Siberia in the 1930’s, completely cut off from civilization they missed WWII and the space race and were only found again in the late 70’s. They later talked about having noticed new stars moving fast across the sky (satellites) https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/for-40-years-this-russian-family-was-cut-off-from-all-human-contact-unaware-of-world-war-ii-7354256/


The interesting thing for me as a linguist was that when some explorers made contact with the family, their form of Russian was so archaic and garbled that the explorers had a hard time understanding them. The isolation had turned their language into a mutated version which bore massive differences to the standard Russian of the rest of Russia.


“God, that thought is insane to me. That during the biggest war in the history of the galaxy, one that involved dozens of interstellar factions and weapons of unfathomable power, there were still backwater planets continuing their lives completely unaware of it.” - Some alien probably, 2021


The fact that this is a possibility is both scary and exciting


Maybe we are the sentinel island of the galaxy


Magic conch has granted us!


That food the plane dropped looked so good


The magic conch has spoken! Oh Lulululululululu


Magic conch shell, will I ever get married?


Like that movie The Gods Must Be Crazy. Kalahari bushman finds an empty coke bottle, doesn’t know what it is and goes on a quest across Africa to return it.


We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. As cousins we settled on this movie on VHS and til this day we all love it.




Funny thing is that one of the fishermen they attacked left their ship on shore and accidentally accelerated them to the iron age.


This is true of the ship, but didn't really accelerate them to the iron age because once the iron ship is gone they can't recreate iron. They did use the iron in their arrow tips, etc so they definitely utilized it though I'm reading the book Sapiens right now which is amazing. The author, Yuval Noah Harari, says that the term stone age is a misnomer as well, since that was the era of humanity that was dominated more by the advent of wooden tools (just parts of some tools were stone). He argues it should be called the "wood age". I'm sure there are arguments either way, but I thought that was an interesting clarification


> He argues it should be called the "wood age". Or, as a fringe group of anthropologists call it, the "Minecraft Early Game Age".


A fleshlight


Bold of you to assume they don’t have their own sea-cucumber version of that on their intra-island delivery service catalogue.


Coconuts. Edit: context https://www.reddit.com/r/tifu/comments/6rr6ay/tifu_by_cumming_into_a_coconut/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=iossmf


But they’d be able to figure that one out pretty easily.


that's a good one for r/AskReddit


Apparently a coke bottle is enough to do it according to an old documentary I saw once. (Does this reference even land anymore? That stupid movie was so ubiquitous when I was a kid and it has, rightly, been completely memory holed)


The Gods Must Be Crazy. I'm 54 years of age, so the joke lands with me.


I got that reference.


They aired it a looooot in Mexico


A glass coke bottle


The gods must be crazy!


I visited the major island, Andaman, that North Sentinel is a part of, to help my friend with her research. She needed my translation services to interview a group of fishermen that belong to the same community as I (she worked on gathering whale and dolphin movements around the island chain). While talking to one of these fishermen we found out that generally, fishermen are absolutely scared of going anywhere North Sentinel for fishing unless they are very very desperate. They are not only aware of the danger the tribe presents, but are also afraid of the Indian Coast Guard penalizing or arresting them. That uneducated missionary puppet who approached the island fee years ago must have paid a heavy bribe to one of these fishermen to be able to convince them to take him there. I hope that story never repeats itself though.


Instead, Chau paid two fishermen 25,000 Indian rupees to take him close to the island. The fishermen were later arrested.


That's so sad, I feel bad for them! Indian Coast Guard and Navy donot fuck around when it comes to the entire set of islands because of geopolitics. My friend was denied permissions to even accompany fishermen for their typical fishing activities (she just hoped to spot dolphins/whales while out in the sea).


Man, I wonder what their creation stories are. So curious. Edit: Some things I noticed in the comments: 1. There’s an assumption being made that creation story can only mean the creation story found in the Christian/Islamic/Jewish religions. Adam and Eve is not the only creation story/myth that exists in the world. 2. Creation story or myth by definition means the symbolic narrative of the beginning of the world as understood in a particular tradition and community. I hope this clears things up. Edit 2: another thought I had; lol hat if there’s a unique species of some kind on the island. Since we haven’t been able to explore the island at all ever, what if there’s a unique species of pig or something there. How wild.


Yeah I totally want them to stay isolated but the curiosity just *kills* me.


Can you imagine what it would be like to join the world one day and realize that society treated you as an endangered species? That they discussed you and studied you from afar? It’d be like if humans from the future came out of space and said they’d been keeping us isolated and watching us for decades to document our behavior. Ofc this tribe wants to be left alone but still… that would be jarring.


that’s one of my favorite ways for us to discover aliens. it means there’s powerful beings out there that care enough about us primitives to protect us for as long as they could. a lot better than hostility or godlike indifference at least


I recently read something like there are about 30 habitable planets that scientists believe are close enough to observe Earth if they do indeed have intelligent life and if they are just a bit more advanced than we currently are. I had never really thought about that possibility before that another race could be watching us without ever getting anywhere near us. It was on r/science sometime within the past week or so if anyone is interested.


What’s scary to me, if this were true, is they could be only 1,000 years or 1,000,000,000 years ahead of us in scientific developments and we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.


*protheans have entered the chat*


In my cycle...








God harbinger is so creepy lol


You know what hurts me, Harbinger? The fuckin scions you keep sending at me; stop it




I think there was an AskReddit some time back about what the most terrifying extraterrestrial message would be. Someone wrote "If you are receiving this message, it is too late. We can no longer protect you and they are coming."


There is a NoSleep story about that. As you know we are sending messages in all direction and listening, just in case we ever receive something artificial looking, and in the story we receive a message back one day « Stop being so loud or they will hear you ».


“We have been trying to reach you regarding your vehicle’s extended warranty.”


This is known as the “zoo hypothesis” solution to the Fermi paradox. A related concept is “nursery worlds,” as if we are a baby civilization who will some day be welcomed into “adult” (ie mature) interstellar society.


Or they don’t wait because a highway needs to be built.


Basically the plot of the 2001 space odyssey book series


All that’s missing is a giant space fetus




In one of my favorite sci fi dystopia books, Pretties, the advanced humans are absolutely doing that to a group of people they’ve forced to live as hunter-gatherers as a big science experiment. It’s an interesting subplot and very well done.


Imagine if some alien civilizations are posting on their social media sites with a picture of earth going like “the universes last ___ age planet, they have been isolated for the past several billion years”




There was an anthropologist and ancient tribal warfare scientists, in the 90’s I believe, that did have contact with them on a few occasions, if I remember correctly they gave the islanders fruit and the islanders gave them little figurines. It was in one of Simon Whistlers’ GEO episodes on youtube.


Yes, this is correct, they stayed in their boats and let sentinelese approach. They offered them coconuts. If I remember correctly the communication didn’t not progress much farther than that.


There have been incidences with helicopters. These are called jarawa tribes who live near Andaman Nicobar islands. Couple of years backs there was a cyclone that hit the islands including certain parts of india. The government was providing aids to these islands with medicine and food, but these tribes would shoot arrows on these helicopters. During disasters and famines etc the government does send them supplies and now they have grown used to it.




Planes probably freak them out


They’re used to them by now. Between nosey evangelists, explorers, and anthropologists attempts at contact have been made and at least one peaceful encounter has occurred though no direct communication or trade or lasting presence on the island has been established. Now the Indian government patrols the waters around their island to keep them safe so airplanes are a pretty common occurrence in their skies I’d wager.


Anthropologists haven't tried to contact these people in a very long time. The discipline of anthropology is actually against contacting them now (am an anthropologist). The most anthropologists have done is check on them after the tsunami in 2003 and leave some food - but they didn't get out of their boats. You can actually find videos of this online, and the above picture was taken from that trip. It's illegal to contact them. The only people who've tried are religiously motivated and they killed the last outsider to set foot on that island. edit: 2004 tsunami, sorry


Speaking of the 2004 tsunami, it's fascinating considering that they survived it when they're at the direct impact area. Just go few hundred kilometres to the south and you reach Aceh, where the most casualties came from. I guess their folklore have some tsunami stories in it.


The fact that this needed to be cleared up makes me sad.


A single sour patch kid could be used to kill their tribe leader.


Whenever I see this image it makes me think if we are in the exact situation. Like what if we're isolated from the rest of whatever bigger civilization that's out there. Crazy man.


Maybe some government out there is protecting us from space diseases?


They don't even know about totally jacked Doritos?




Speaking of… do you have a minute? We’ve been trying to reach you.


"This is your final notice", every fuckin day


& I don’t even have a car… why do they keep calling me ?


Bottle and note time


One lady was able to contact them and form a bond with them over time. Below is a link to an article I found - https://theprint.in/opinion/madhumala-chattopadhyay-the-woman-who-made-the-sentinelese-put-their-arrows-down/156330/ EDIT: Few users pointed this out and I haven't gotten to finish researching this but looks like the article above, while an interesting read, is for a different tribe. Not the same one mentioned in the post.


What a fascinating article! I had never heard of Madhumala, or any successfully peaceful contact with the north sentinelese for that matter.


That’s a tribe south of the north sentinelese. They’re still in contact to this day with modern people.


Great article! I had spent some time reading about the Sentinelese, and heard that there were peaceful interactions with them, but had never actually found information on that. Thanks for sharing!


Has anyone from the island ever tried making contact with the rest of the world? Seems like at least one rebellious teen would have gone on a journey of self discovery after running away from his secluded village by now.


Stop, you're giving Disney more ideas


Have you ever watched Moana? They already did it


That's a Disney movie - Moana


Does that mean they invented the bow and arrow independently from the rest of civilisation? Or did there used to be contact hundreds/thousands of years ago?


Africans have common ancestors with them from thousands of years ago. Bows and arrows go way farther back than that.


They're evidence of the "Out of Africa" theory.


Bows have existed for about as long as the Island has been populated so it’s possible that the first settlers had bows.


I dont mean to sound like a dick, but honest question. A tribe living in isolation for that long would basically all be inbred at this point right?


You don’t have to be that distantly related before the effects of “inbreeding” essentially die off. Not an expert, but like, anything past a first cousin and you’re likely in the clear.


Arkansas here, and second cousins are A OK


Kentucky here, first cousins are also A OK... Right guys? Right?


Alabama here, and if anybody’s gonna have sex with MY sister, ITS GON BE ME!




Yeah, there would have to be multiple generations of inbreeding with very close relatives in order for the defects to actually become a significant concern. I think most of the stereotypical genetic defects we often see when we hear of products of incest are more extreme cases and not the majority. So if you meet a person whose parents were first cousins and that was their family’s only instance of inbreeding in over a century, then chances are you wouldn’t even be able to tell that about the person until they mention it, and they most likely wouldn’t have any relevant health concerns. Now if you have a royal family who has spent a long time refusing to procreate with anyone outside their bloodline and people are legit screwing their own siblings for generations, *then* that’s when you’d see all those defects start to show up in the children. With a small population like this, obviously some inbreeding may be more likely, however there are more than enough people on the island for immediate familial incest to be easily avoidable. It’s not like there are only 4 people there. Assuming that everyone on the island avoids incest like we all do, chances are most of the “inbreeding” we would see are between very distant relatives who probably already have different family traditions and don’t even know of their genetic relationships because of how distant they are.


They’re probably wondering why it’s so fuckin hot


They still probably got a ps5 before me


Ship full of PS5s sinks…and thats the story of how a fucking stone age tribe got their hands on a ps5 before i did.


3...2..1 before some youtube travel vlog takes on the challenge.


They must love all the plastic shit we send to their shores.


Great fire starters, just don’t breath the fumes


>>genetically a direct line between them and their pre-neolithic ancestors Unless I'm misunderstanding this, EVERYONE has a direct line to their own ancestors. Like, that's how existence works


I think the idea is that you could trace their genetic history back to the first people who moved to the island while the rest of the planet has been crossing genetics with each other for a while now.


Yeah I'm not sure how someone could have an ancestor without being genetically descended from them...


They have been in isolation. Their family tree doesn't branch, ya know?


The pure blood trait is hard to obtain. Branches are for the weak.


There are still a fair few relatively untouched tribes in places like Papua New Guinea and the Amazon, so I’d say it’s a bit of a stretch to call them the last Stone Age tribe




Jake Paul vs. the Sentinelese. I’d pay to watch that. 💵🤑


I've been periodically researching them for years. Something always makes me think of them and can't help but check in on those wiley little fuckers.


They are in the Truman Show, aren’t they.


Pretty much ya.


Same here, every so often I'll go on the wiki and see if anything else has been added. Find it so interesting


any good books or articles you can recommend?


SO, I just need to start answering my door in a loincloth while brandishing a long bow, and *then* people will finally leave me alone?! I just need the bow then...


To say they are uncontacted may not be the most accurate. They’re probably just extremely off the grid - I’m sure they have seen boats, and ships and modern equipment, just like the person taking this photo. But not up close, and they probably don’t want to visit anyone else. Making a boat should not be too hard for them if they really wanted to.