North Sentinel Island is located in the Bay of Bengal off of the coast of India. It is well away from landlocked earth, and while it is officially administered by India, no one has been able to make contact with the native inhabitants. The island is one of the last remaining uncivilized areas of the earth, existing in a rare state of conceded sovereignty.
An indigenous tribe has lived on North Sentinel Island with extremely limited contact with outsiders. Anyone who has attempted to explore the island has been attacked or outright killed. North Sentinel is so dangerous for outsiders that India’s government has established a three-mile exclusion zone in an effort to prevent more violence.
On January 26, 2006, two fishermen were killed by Sentinelese when their boat drifted near the island. The bodies were tossed into shallow graves. An Indian coastguard helicopter attempted to retrieve the fishermen’s bodies, but was prevented from landing when it was greeted with a volley of arrows from the tribesmen.
On August 2, 1981, the ship Primrose grounded on the North Sentinel Island reef. Within a short time, shipmates on the immobile vessel noticed that men on the shore were carrying spears and arrows and building boats on the beach. The captain radioed for a drop of weapons so that the ship could defend itself, but did not receive them. Luckily, heavy seas kept the islanders away long enough for the crew to be rescued by helicopter.
After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the Indian government sent a helicopter to check on the inhabitants on the island. While other nearby islands were heavily affected, the Sentinelese appeared to have been unharmed. The helicopter observed several clansmen shooting arrows and throwing stones at the hovering aircraft with the apparent intent of repelling it.
Believed to number anywhere from 50 to 400, the Sentinelese have lived in isolation on the island for 60,000 years.
The deep tree canopy makes it difficult to observe the Sentinelese from the air, but based on limited observational data it is assumed that they are hunter-gatherers; agriculture does not appear to be known to them.
They have managed to create metal-tipped arrows by carving out pieces from the hulls of wrecked shops. If not for this practice, the Sentinelese would be described as Stone Age people.
The Sentinelese violence is almost certainly simply related to self-preservation, and they have been successful while other indigenous tribes have been wiped out. For now, the Indian government seems content to allow the native people to preserve their isolation, at least partially for fear that bacterial contamination may cause their extinction. So the people of North Sentinel Island continue to live in isolation, unaware and uncaring of the evolution of the world around them, on a tiny island in the great wide ocean.