The Mystery of North Sentinel Island

In recent years, much attention has been brought to the situation on North Sentinel Island. It is on this island in the Bay of Bengal that one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes on earth remains. It is estimated that this tribe has been separated from the rest of the developing world for the past 60,000 years. There has been many differing opinions on what should be done about this isolated tribe. However, I have an option that not many have truly considered: perhaps we should leave them be.

Firstly, the Sentinelese people are very hostile towards outside people who attempt to enter the island to gain information on these people. As a result of this tribal hostility, not much is known about these people. However, images taken from helicopters seem to show that this tribe has not discovered agriculture, nor have they gained the knowledge of the creation of fire. This being said, these people live a very simple life within their tribe, which is estimated to consist of 50 to 500 people. In addition to this, their tribe is supposedly divided into 5 to 10 smaller groups, each consisting of a fraction of the total population.

The opinion of some maniacal egotists is that we must enter their island with our own technology in an attempt to study them. However, this option would neither be ethical nor functional on many levels. These people have already had the displeasure of the after effects of an imperialist power invading their island for their own gain. In the late 1800’s, the British Empire temporarily kidnapped six members of the tribe and brought them back to Port Blair, which is off the coast of India. This egotistical decision on the part of the British did not end well. Two of the elders that were taken, eventually died in transit to Port Blair. The four children that arrived in civilization were showered with many gifts from the British. This was done in an attempt to gain a positive response from the children, who would tell their tribe, who would eventually open up to the imperialist Brits. Unfortunately, this plan did not work as expected. Once the four children were released back into the forests of North Sentinel Island, they did not return. It is for this reason that the Sentinelese people do not wish to be disturbed in their peaceful way of life. I can not blame them for being hostile towards outsiders, considering that these people do not wish to have their own unlawfully kidnapped and killed by the hands of colonialist powers.

These people have a very respectable way of life that is functioning quite well. Of course, tribal warfare and infighting may exist among the Sentinelese people, but that is about the extent of the problems that are faced by this majestic tribe on a daily basis. Compare this to our technological-based society, which is on the brink of collapse. Poverty is quite prevalent in our industrial civilization, just as economic crashes slowly push our system to the brink of total failure. We must learn that our society is far more internally hostile towards itself than any tribal society will ever witness. We must learn that within this tribal way of life, there is no poverty, no possessions, and no social pressures to keep the populace in line. This tribal social structure produces a far more enjoyable living experience to everybody who lives under it than technological society ever will.

This being said, it is not within our immediate interest to destroy a perfectly functional tribal society for our own civilized gain. Why would we ever want to expose these innocent tribespeople to the dangers of technology and industry? The Sentinelese people will have no desire to rot their minds with the virus that is technology if we do not expose them to this vicious disease. The majestic Sentinelese people have no interest in destroying their functional tribal way of life, and we should not have an interest in converting them to civilized life. We must learn that there are many ways to live, none of which are incorrect. As Daniel Quinn once said in his novel Ishmael: “There is no one right way to live.” This quote is correct in this one specific instance, as the Sentinelese tribal way suits the Sentinelese people, and it should not matter if we feel that the tribal way of life is correct or not. Therefore, I believe that it would be in our own interests, and in the interests of societal diversity to maintain the tribal way of life as practiced by the Sentinelese people.