Meet Madhumala Chattopadhyay, First Indian Anthropologist Woman Who Had a Friendly Encounter With Sentinelese Tribe of Andaman
Indian anthropologist Madhumala Chattopadhyay with Sentinelese tribe (Photo credits: Facebook)

The Sentinelese tribe from Andamans are known to be among the most isolated people on this planet. Staying in the North Sentinel Islands in the Bay of Bengal, they are aggressive when they establish any contact with the outside world. Their aggression was seen recently witnessed when an American tourist John Allen Cheu was killed by some members of the tribe. The 27-year-old tourist apparently was there to preach Christianity to the people. Displeased by his intervention, the tribe killed him. But it brings a doubt if there has ever been a proper human contact with these extremely isolated people? Well, yes and its an Indian anthropologist Madhumala Chattopadhyay. She was in fact, the first ever woman to have a friendly contact with the Sentinelese tribe.

Madhumala Chattopadhyay landed on the North Andaman Sentinel island on Jan 4, 1991, for her research work on these tribes. She could not pursue her study because of their hostile nature. On the first day of her visit, she offered the people with coconuts as gifts. The men from the community accepted them, sensing no harm from the woman may be. At the time when she reached there, she stood in waist-deep waters on coral reefs. Here’s What We Know About Sentinelese Tribe.

The friendly encounter was short-lived as another man aimed an arrow at her. However, a woman from the tribe pushed her away which prevented the attack. But the team immediately retreated from there. Madhumala returned to them in the month of February and was welcomed enthusiastically by them, once again to receive coconuts. No arrows were aimed at her this time around. However, her research had to limit to another tribe in the Andaman as the Indian government had banned entries to the place.

Although a lot is said about the hostile nature of these tribes, Madhumala's experience was very different. She was quoted to a website, "Never ever in my six years of doing research alone with the tribes of Andamans did any man ever misbehave with me. The tribes might be primitive in their technological achievements but socially they are far ahead of us".