Target: India’s Minster of Tribal Affairs Jual Oram
Goal: Protect an isolated tribe from exposure to modern diseases
The Sentinelese people, an isolated indigenous group who live on an island in the Indian Ocean, have refused contact with the outside world for 60,000 years. Now, because of demand for a sea cucumber marketed as a delicacy in China, they may face diseases that could kill the entire tribe. Fishermen in pursuit of this sea cucumber have to expand their search further towards North Sentinel Island as increased demand has led to overfishing in many areas. The people that inhabit the island likely have no resistance to modern diseases, and nearby tribes have been nearly wiped out in similar situations. Though the island is supposed to be off limits to outsiders, illegal fishing has happened in the past, including a 2006 incident in which two fishermen were killed by Sentinelese archers. For the safety of everyone—the Sentinelese people and fishermen alike—contact needs to be avoided.
The Sentinelese people are one of the last remaining tribes that do not experience regular contact with the outside world. Tribes in similar areas have been nearly wiped out by modern diseases after contact and colonization, their cultures slowly dying out. We can’t allow this to happen to the Sentinelese—this is a group that has resisted outside contact for 60,000 years, and to risk its destruction for something as unimportant as a delicacy is absurd.
Though the island is already supposed to be protected from illegal fishing that might bring the Sentinelese people into contact with modern diseases, efforts by the Indian government may need to be ramped up to decrease fishing as people looking for sea cucumbers move into the area. Preserving this unique culture is far more important than a delicacy, and the lives of both the Sentinelese people and the fishermen are in danger. Ask the Indian government to keep a close eye on this area to ensure everyone’s safety and protect this one-of-a-kind culture from devastation by modern diseases.
Dear Minister Oram,
The Sentinelese people may be under threat from fishermen in search of sea cucumbers. Sea cucumbers are a delicacy in China, and as demand increases, fishermen move closer to Sentinelese territory. This is a threat to both the tribe and the fishermen—the tribe has shot and killed other fishermen with arrows, and contact with modern diseases has wiped out other tribes in the area. These people need to be protected for everyone’s safety.
While North Sentinel Island is already under protection by the Indian government, more efforts may need to be made to protect the Sentinelese people. Fishing has not stopped just because it’s illegal, and the encroachment of Chinese fishermen into the area may spell the end for this unique culture.
Make protecting the Sentinelese people a priority. Even one instance of contact between this group and outsiders may be enough to effectively wipe them out, as they likely have no resistance to modern diseases. Please use your influence as Minster of Tribal Affairs to ensure the continued survival of this one-of-a-kind community by keeping an eye on the area and more vigilantly protecting the area from illegal fishing.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Matthiasb via Wikimedia Commons