North Sentinel Island

A most enticing island that is the first to appear on approach by air.


A most enticing island that is the first to appear on approach by air.

North Sentinel Island is banned from any visitors. You legally cannot go within three miles of this island. But why is this?

North Sentinel Island is a small island in the Bay of Bengal close to India. This island is home to the native group of the Sentinelese people.

The Sentinelese people reject any contact with outside visitors. Since they have been on the island for thousands of years without contact from anyone else, they also have not been affected by the diseases the rest of the world has. If they were to come in contact with someone outside of their island, it is likely the entire tribe would be wiped out from diseases that their bodies are not equipped to fight off.

In order to keep their community isolated, the tribe resorts to violence, shooting arrows at people who come close to the island.

Despite their violent nature and their want to keep others away, there have been few contacts made with them.

In 1991, Indian officials were attempting, once again, to make contact with the tribe, as they had been trying to do for years prior. This time, the Sentinelese people approached the shoreline without barring their weapons and seemed to be inviting the officials to come closer to the shore.

There were many other trips where contact teams left gifts. Some of these trips went well and others ended in violence as the tribe’s people pointed their arrows and tried to attack the boats the contact teams arrived on.

However, in 1996, these regular gift-dropping missions stopped. Officials came to the conclusion that continuously attempting to make contact with knowingly unpredictable and violent peoples was not worth the hassle. It was obvious that the tribe was flourishing and happy being isolated from others and they figured they should no longer try to change that.

Limited visits were made after the gift dropping missions stopped, one of these being after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. A select team flew a helicopter over the island to make sure the people were okay.

Despite it being illegal, there are some people who continue to visit the island, or at least attempt to.

On November 7, 2018, 26 year old John Chau, an American adventure blogger was killed by the Sentinelese people. He was traveling to the island as an evangelical missionary, attempting to make contact with the tribe’s people and convert them to Christinaity.

People had a lot of mixed feelings when articles and news stories began to talk about Chau’s death in early 2019.

Some people viewed the Sentinelese as cold-hearted killers while others blamed Chau, who went to the island despite understanding the risks and knowing it was illegal.

All together, it is clear the Sentinelese tribe is content with their isolated tribes, and previous attempts to contact them have proven that they want nothing to do with the outside world. It is best we all leave them alone.