"Last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world" kill fisherman

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that "one of the world's last Stone Age tribes," which lives on an island and numbers between 50-200 people, killed a couple of fisherman when their boat landed onto the tribe's island in the Indian Ocean.

The Sentinelese, thought to number between 50 and 200, have rebuffed all contact with the modern world, firing a shower of arrows at anyone who comes within range.

They are believed to be the last pre-Neolithic tribe in the world to remain isolated and appear to have survived the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Here's an interesting article about the Sentinelese, "The Last Island of the Savages" by Adam Goodheart, which appeared in The American Scholar in 2000.

On some visits the party would see Sentinelese; on others they would not. Invariably, however, they would try to land – at a place out of bow-shot, if there were natives on the beach – and leave gifts. These in-cluded sacks of coconuts, bananas, and bits of iron conveniently sized to be hammered and scraped into arrowheads; occasionally they brought special presents like mirrors, red ribbons, rubber balls, and bead neck-laces. Sometimes the Sentinelese would make gestures that appeared friendly, waving their hands as the dinghies chugged across the lagoon; sometimes they would make gestures that were probably hostile, turning their backs toward the visitors en masse and sitting on their haunches as if to defecate. It was not out of character for them to rush out of the jungle and grab the gifts, then shower their retreating benefactors with arrows.

Occasionally there were incidents more reminiscent of the Keystone Kops than of Captain Cook. Once, a high-ranking naval officer, newly deputed to the Andamans, accompanied the expedition. "He was a very fat guy, a Punjabi, with a very loud manner and talking too much, that type of character," Pandit recalls. As the officer's dinghy approached shore, and Sentinelese were seen emerging from the forest, he stood up and started waving his arms over his head, shouting at the tribesmen in Punjabi: "Hello! Hello! I am your friend!" A second later, an arrow clanged against an iron shield that a crewman had held up, just in time, in front of the officer's belly. During another expedition, a boat carrying the superintendent of police turned turtle in the surf. Some armed Sentinelese watched from the beach, but did not shoot the struggling men. This was seen as an encouraging sign.

Link (Thanks, Eeegah!)

Reader comment: Geoffrey says: "I really enjoyed this post and read the entire Goodheart article. On the same site, I then found maps and photos of the Sentineli island and people. Maybe NSFW in a Natnl. Geo. sort of way. Fascinating…thanks for the post."

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