Sentinelese People: What Is Their Language, What Do They Eat & Where Do They Live

In human history, there are groups of people who still live as the early men. They have not allowed civilization to penetrate their dwellings or alter their pattern of existence and the amazing fact is that they are about one hundred tribes and people untouched, uncontacted whose culture, language, dressings, foods, etc remains undented by western or outside influence. One of such groups is the Sentinelese people, resident by the Indian Ocean.

Their way of life is said to be primitive ranging from nomadic, hunting, agriculture with crude implements. Their general weapons and tools are bows, arrows, spears, and axes. Some people-groups on the list of the untouched tribes are the Korowai (Southeastern Papua of New Guinea), the Fleicheros, dwelling in valley Javari in Brazil, the Mashco-Piro found in the Amazon forest of Peru and finally, the Sentinelese tribes whose dwelling is at the Indian Ocean, North of Sentinel Island. For today, our interest is the Sentinelese, read more for interesting facts about this small tribe.

Who Are The Sentinelese People?

The Sentinelese people are indigenes of the North of Sentinel Island within the Indian Ocean. They are otherwise called the “Sentineli”. The North Sentinel land can be found in Andaman Island in India. They are said to have inhabited this zone for over six hundred years, speculated to have originated from Africa, due to the blackness of their skin color, and they are said to be hostile and unfriendly tribe who do not accept intruders or outsiders in their territory.

The Sentinelese have an estimated population of about 40 to 500. A contrast to the figure obtained by the Indian census conducted in 2001 which stated that they saw about twenty-one males and eighteen females. The accuracy of this figures is in doubt as the Sentinelese people are known to hide from intruders/outsiders, besides this census was conducted from a distance owing to the violent and hostile nature of the people.


The Sentinelese people are mostly hunters and fishers. They do their fishing in the coastal waters. They have spears, arrows, and bows which are believed to have been fashioned out of bones, sticks, and metal scrapes washed up by the sea or left behind in the shores from ship wreckage found on the island by the in-dwellers from where they make their tools.

Their dressing includes decorated leaves, necklaces, headband, and thick waist belts made from bark and vine of trees as well as fiber strings. The men of the tribe are said to be as tall as 1.6 meters and mostly left-handed from the way they have been seen to throw their spears at helicopters and intruders.

What To Know About Their Food

The Sentinelese have often been referred to as cannibals and human eaters in the past, a claim that has not been substantiated by any evidence so far, they are said to feed on wild plants, fruits, fishes, and seafoods, as well as games hunted from the forest. It is also not proven if they actually kindle fire to process their games or foods. Their method of preparing food is said to be compared to that of the Onges because ethnically they are related to the Onges who are otherwise known Jarawa.


The language of this tribe is said to be a single and undifferentiated one And though it is not easy to comprehend, it is speculated to be close to the languages of their neighboring tribes. This limitation in classifying their language remains so because the tribe has consistently rebuffed efforts by the Indian government and outside influences at understudying them, therefore we can safely say that their language remains unclassified.

They are said to observe certain rituals for burials for their loved ones, a deed that shows that they are sort of religious tribe.

Read Also: Ndebele Tribe, Language & Traditional Attire

Where Do The Sentinelese People Live?

Sentinelese People
A view from the sky the Sentinelese Huts and people

The Sentinelese people are said to reside in the forest within the Sentinel Island, dwelling in huts built within the community and family. The larger huts are the communal ones while the smaller huts are scattered around the communal hut for each of the family units.

External Contacts With The Sentinelese People

It is on records that from 1880 to 1970, the tribe had been contacted, even though unsuccessfully as nothing tangible came out of the contacts. One such contact was done by the Indian government when they tried to lure them out in order to interact with them, by presenting them with gifts or forcefully taking one or two of the tribe men out of the jungle. However, their attempts failed because once an outsider is being spotted, they either start hostile attacks with their bow and arrows or disappear into the jungle.

In 1974, some anthropologist went up to the Sentinel island with Gifts like pigs, a doll, an aluminum cookware, coconuts which they presented at the shores to the sentinel people to draw them out so they could make some documentaries about the people, but the pig was killed by these ancient dwellers and then buried alongside with the dolls, while the coconut and Aluminium was taken by them into the forest after that had attacked the team with bow and arrows.

In another account, two Indian fishermen were said to have strayed into the territory in 2006 with their boats, the Sentinelese caught up with them, killed and buried them in shallow graves.

One thing is sure about this tribe, despite all the harsh weather and climatic changes, over time, they still thrive on keeping the integrity of their island and they remain a proud, self-sufficient, healthy, and strong people.


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