The aboriginal inhabitants of the Andaman Islands are famous in anthropology for their African looks, and hunter-gatherer lifestyles.
Apparently they are descendants of one of the first migrations into Asia from Africa, and represent a "pure form" of the Negrito peoples spread as
tribal minorities across southern Asia and Oceania.
While the colonization of the islands began under the British in the 19th century, some Andamese groups remained isolated, and even uncontacted. en.wikipedia.org...
The Jarawa people of the South Andaman Island first initiated significant contact in 1997.
Since then they were given a reserve.
However a road cuts across the western part of the reserve, which attracts tourists and sight-seers.
My thread is really about the policy towards the 400 Jarawa (in a settler population of about 200 000).
It appears that the Jarawa are made to live in a human zoo.
When they wander outside their reserve they are taken back by the police.
They are supposed to remain "traditional" and "pure".
Defenders of this isolationist policy say that the Jarawa are endangered, and one outbreak of HIV or another disease could kill the tribe.
However, an Indian village leader on the edge of the reserve says the Jarawa walk far distances to reach villages and beg for food, because poachers
and illegal loggers are already on their land.
When the police find them outside the reserve they are rounded up and driven into the jungle.
Apparently the Jarawa also want a village, and the village leader says that if they were settled they could increase their numbers into the
Currently there is no official tourism allowed for the Jarawa, yet tourists from mainland India flock to drive through the reserve, and taking
pictures cannot be prevented.
The local police were once charged with keeping the Jarawa from the settlements, but now they must "protect" the tribe from outsiders.
While one can understand some fears about contact, isn't that just apartheid and denying people a voice in modern culture?
Even in a trickle of documentary footage they can never speak for themselves.
An Aljazeera documentary on the Jarawa - The Lost Tribe:
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I find that a useful statement on the situation.
It's like an illicit tourist industry thrives on keeping them as a display.
Of course that's not saying that isolationists are always selfish, and arguing from a position of exploitation.
They have some very good points, which might be very relevant to the region.
Especially when one considers that a neighboring tribe became extinct in 1931, and the desperate plight of other hunter-gathering minorities in the
However, from the last archival clips in the Aljazeera footage it really seems like that bus is driving through a jungle ghetto, where people want
more contact, yet their status somehow forbids this.
It's actually outrageous.
And it seems so patronizing for the police to limit their movements.
On what basis?
Because they're supposed to be "primitive"?
Anyway, some footage of the Jarawa, which I suppose came shortly after pacified contact.
Is this material part of the myth-making?
(Note, some tribal nudity.)
I guess that's the last real communication to the world before isolationism.
Wow. Another "Lost" tribe...well lost to us, not them.
Interesting the Jarawa's, I wonder if Lucas used this name for his "Little People" Jawa's?
Anyway, further DNA research shows that they are an "Ancient" African Peoples, NOT related to the Modern African Peoples?? SO what is a modern
African People? From the Bushman to the Masai, to the Zulu and all inbetween, seem to be different.....African peoples are so diverse.
They postulate the Jarawas have been on the Andaman Islands for at least 30,000 years.
Interestingly, they DO NOT have a DNA strand found in the Australian Aborigine, who has estimated to have been in Australia for 60,000-100,000 years.
Tho there apparently have been earlier migrations than this.
Presumably, this tribe became isolated from others on the mainland, I guess during the thaw, 12000 years or so ago. The others mixed with
Asian/Indo-Europeans? etc to become modern Indians, Japanese Ainu, Melanesians, Polenesians, Taiwanese Indigenous etc???
Did the first wave of Australian decsendents leave communes that forced these Jarawas to the Islands?
We will never know.
Human interaction and migrating is a fascinating subject, thanks for bringing this to light.
I mean I can see why people want to see them or whatever. I mean I would like to, I think it would be interesting, but it should be at the tribes
wishes and not a human safari. It's also disgusting that people make them dance for food and whatever else.
I don't really understand the "no contact" policy. If they want to be integrated then they should have every right to be.
Yip, they sure are an enigma, and a bit of a mystery.
In historical anthropology it was once believed that parts of the Pacific were colonized by such groups, which were subsequently annihilated, or
intermarried with later waves of immigrants.
That's all unsure.
However, it cannot be denied that they are visibly striking for that region.
I think this physical otherness from their closest neighbors potentially makes them repositories not only of a unique lifestyle, but of unlocked DNA,
and as such vested interest groups possibly see them as far more crucial than Native American tribes in the Amazon, for example.
India is really in a catch-22.
I think there's an unspoken demand of keeping them segregated for future research.
Nevertheless, I'm sure one can reach a compromise between a zoo and development.
But what if they suddenly want to intermarry?
What genetic chance do they stand against numerical odds?
It would indeed be sad to see them as wage laboring ciphers.
I'd just love to hear them speak for themselves.
For a long time they were described as violent cannibals.
But we never hear their side of the story.
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For sure, I think like any frontier society in history there's exploitation going on and people with selfish motives.
Both the environment and people are probably exploited.
Well-meaning laws in theory can lead to more corruption and bribery in practice.
I'd say it's better to interact with tribal people and give them some modern means of defending themselves.
For example, another documentary showed how some Amazon tribes are keeping loggers off the land by using the Internet.
In the past a lot of abuse happened simply because it never came to any wider attention.
So it's deeply concerning that a group of people are deliberately isolated, and essentially rendered voiceless.
Always known about these people for many years; they are probably the closest LIVING ancestors outside of Africa of the PNG'ians, Fijians and
Australian Aboriginals! Not to be confused with the NZ Maori whose closest living ancestors are the earlier Native American tribe from North America
via South America.
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The following page from Amazon Watch includes an Aljazeera documentary on the "Internet Indians", which shows how the Ashaninka people of Amazonia are
using the Internet to stop logging in isolated frontier areas.
Perhaps isolation can be a curse, and arguably some of the worst episodes in colonialism occurred simply because news was so slow to trickle back to
policy-makers and public opinion that may have been theoretically well-meaning, but simply uninformed.
So it would be good for the Jarawa to be connected.
It's a good start that their lands are reserved for them, and their numbers have increased since 1997.
However, securing all that cannot be done by other people through a patronage that reduces them to children.
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The situation of the Jarawa becomes more complex when one compares them to other other minority hunter gatherers in the Asian region.
The Penan people of Sarawak (a Malaysian province in Borneo) have had a long struggle for a meaningful reserve to protect their lands from loggers,
with international activism (seemingly to little effect).
The Vedda people of Sri Lanka were moved into villages in historic times.
A recent documentary (which is not online) claimed some were forced out of caves as recently as two decades ago.
They embrace aspects of the modern world, but reject others.
Recent documentaries show them embracing tourism to a degree, and some remaining traditions of hunting and gathering, although they have to move
across land that no longer belongs to them to do so.
Especially with smaller countries, the competition for land is fierce.
So one can understand the hands-off approach, and once introduced to a cash economy not all indigenous people are natural environmentalists. Factions
sometimes sell portions of their forest, or they start using destructive technologies, like fishing with dynamite, or hunting with automatic weapons.
It seems clear however that contact cannot be legally forbidden in any practical sense, and a global dialogue on such matters including the tribes is
more helpful than keeping people in a situation where they cannot really live their traditional lives, nor enjoy the benefits of modern society.
In one sense their passing after the "black war" with white settlers was regarded as a tragedy, and a missionary effort removed the survivors to the
off-shore Flinders Island. www.aboriginalartonline.com...
However, while this provided safety against settler aggression, the isolation had the opposite effect to increasing the population and the Wybalenna
settlement was gradually depopulated until the Tasmanians petitioned Queen Victoria.
The missionary George Augustus Robinson was often blamed as the cause of the gradual extinction, but the aboriginal petition blames another man (Dr.
Jeanneret), who gave them rotten and low quality food, kept them settled in filthy conditions, clearly intimidated them, and didn't care for their
Nevertheless, the Tasmanians did write a petition to Queen Victoria, and they were taken back to the mainland from a very bizarre and tyrannical
experiment. However, it seems at that stage it was too late, and the 40 or so survivors out of the 106 people taken to the Flinders Island were housed
in a former convict barracks south of Hobart.
The fact is that they did write a petition, and with more speedy delivery via the Internet one wonders if the Tasmanians could have been liberated
sooner, or if the Jarawa could do the same today. It seems unlikely for an illiterate people. In that sense they are at a greater disadvantage than
historically colonized peoples.
Aboriginal (in the phraseology of the historian Henry Reynolds: "a free people") petition to Queen Victoria, 1846. indigenousrights.net.au...
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