Unless you manage to basically avoid all news this week, you’ve likely seen the latest piece of untouched humanity we’re about to ruin and corrupt. The remote, previously undiscovered tribe that was located by a US Missionary, who was then killed, sparkled a huge amount of interest in the media.
While some made the reasonable point that we should leave them be, other people wanted to ride in and bother the tribe, ‘uplifting’ them – or welcoming them to the big-ass hellhole we’re doing such a fine job of building.
Chau, 26, wanted to ‘declare Jesus’ to the Sentinelese, according to diaries. Photograph: Social Media/Reuters
Not a great deal is known about them at the moment. The Sentinelese, one of the most isolated tribal groups around, have absolutely nothing to do with mainstream society. In a way, we kind of envy them. So, when the news that John Chau was killed trying to interact with them, it was quite sad to hear such actions had taken place.
However, this is a tribe that has made it clear in the past that it wishes to be left well alone. While groups such as Survival International have learned some about the tribe, they are mostly shrouded in mystery. The fear is that, with their rise to ‘stardom’, more people will try to irritate them and end up creating an international scene. Hopefully, nothing more comes of this – the world has a habit of moving on from a news story almost immediately. Let’s hope the same happens here.
Based over in the Bay of Bengal between India and Myanmar, the Sentinelese are a happy people who, as far as we know, take nothing to do with our own worlds. Indian law means you cannot go within five miles of their island in a bid to help preserve their way of life.
Another good reason why we stay clear of them is that we could wipe them out. Given they take nothing to do with us, logic dictates that their immune systems have never really dealt with the pathogens that we would today consider harmless. As such, a simple illness we treat in minutes with over the counter remedies could wipe out their whole populace.
The risk, then, is too great. And besides, if they never asked for ‘enlightenment’ then how could anyone force it upon them?
This is a community that has supposedly lived here for over 50,000 years – we should do nothing to interrupt a way of life which has obviously done them so well. Look at what we have wiped out across ‘civilized’ society across time – perhaps we should avoid trying to be too influential in a part of the world we don’t understand. Or belong.
It’s believed anything from 15-200 people live on the island, with small bands of people staying together to survive. With large huts and more short-term shelters, they are a culture that looks pretty harmonious. Leave them to it, please. These aren’t people who deserve to be ruined by the ‘gift’ of industry and economics.
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