It is estimated that approximately 5,000 Negrito aborigines lived in Andaman Island when the British established the penal settlement in the Andaman in 1858. Divided into 10 sects, they occupied many Islands of the Andaman archipelago. Their numbers dwindled in due course because of various reasons. At present, about 500 odd negrito aboriginal tribesmen inhabit the Andaman group of Islands.
They are classified into four tribes:
- The Great Andamanese
- The Jarawa
- The Onges and
- The Sentinels.
The Negrito tribes are believed to have arrived in the Islands from Africa up to 60,000 years ago. Negrito tribes inhabited the Andaman group of Islands when the British initially established a base there in 1789. The British described the people but could interact with them only infrequently due to the hostile attitude of the tribe. There were many tribes before the tsunami on this Island, but most tribes were killed in the tsunami, only a few tribes are remaining. When the Jarwa people realized that there was a tsunami, all the people climbed up the tree, how those people realized that people do not wear anything and that day’s weather was different, so they had already come to know. If you want to see the tribes, then you will get to see this Island. The Jarawa you have a place named Jirkatang, we will get to see you if you go a little further if you go to Baratang then you will get to see the jarwa city and you can also see the house where it is served. The Great Andamanese (Nicobaries) tribes will be seen here as well because their family has developed too much, and the Sentinels tribe it is undeveloped and no one is allowed to visit that Island because any person wants to go to that Island and if get permission, then the Sentinel tribe there wants a new one to come to their Island even if a person is gone, those people will kill him to that person because once incident happened once, just together it was earlier went to Island of a Tourist with a Tourist, first of all, don’t come to these Island but the tourist did not listen to them and went away, started the attack with Sentinel arrow and bows throw a tourist and her spot died.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands consist of aboriginal indigenous people i.e. tribal people. They have been dwelling in the forests and jungles of the Islands for centuries, lead a hunter-gather lifestyle, and appear to have lived in substantial isolation for thousands of years. All are nomadic hunter-gatherers, hunting wild pig and monitor lizard and catching fish with bows and arrows. They also collect honey, roots, and berries from the forest. The ‘Mongoloid’ tribes probably came to the Islands from the Malay – Burma cost several thousand years ago.
The British first tried to enter the Island in around 1788 – 89 the Andamanese tribes, with their total population of 5,000 – 8,000, were able to resist them, resulting in the British to move to Port Cornwallis and withdraw from all attempts to obtain Port Blair and Ross Island for about 60 years. The battle between the great Andamanese and the British regime is known as The Aberdeen War. The tribe organizes a well-planned attack on the high ranking British officials but they were betrayed by an escaped convict Dudhanth Tiwari who had lived with the tribal for several months. They were fighting with bows and arrows against guns and artillery.
Most of the young male population was killed in the battle. The population dwindled as and threatened the genes for the future survival of the tribes. Imported diseases, to which the islanders had no immunity further affected population and by 1901 only 625 great Andamanese were left, they shifted base to Straight Island and that is where they live today. Although the Great Andamanese on Strait Island still obtains some of their diets from hunting, fishing, and gathering, they now consume rice and other Indian food and are dependent on support by the Indian government for survival, and the cultural and linguistic identities of the individual tribes have largely been lost; their members now speak mostly Hindi.
Oranges are one of the most primitive tribes in India, its mainly seen near the Dugong creek in little Andaman they are dependent on the food provided by nature and are a semi-nomadic tribe. The Onge population fell post-British colonization from 672 in 1986 – 92 in 1901 but has remained stable since. They have been provided with pucca houses, food, clothes, medicine, etc by the Administration the population of this tribe is stable and is at present 110. The addiction of the Deugong mails to alcohol 06 deaths have been reported because of this already, enquirers into ways of controlling this addiction are taking place.
A population between 250-400 the Jarawa tribe is one of the largest tribes in the Andaman Islands. The Jarawa are still at the primitive stage of life on earth various kinds of fruit, honey, and tubers are part of their diet too. The Jarawas of both sexes go completely naked. This tribe has lived in the southeast part of Andaman but after the British regime, they shifted to the western region of the Island. However, things have changed since 1990 especially after the building of the old trunk road. The Great Andaman trunk road is a 360 km long road that connects Port Blair to the western regions of Andaman. Through it proves beneficial for tourism and business, it has proved life-threatening for the jungles that are home to the Jarawa community.
They inhabit the North Sentinel Island and are the only remaining tribe in the Andamans to still maintain their isolation from the rest of the world. Since 1967, the Indian governments with the help of anthropologists have tried to make contact with the tribe. The tribe showers arrows and stones at whoever comes near the Island. After the tsunami the government again tried to help them by sending a few employees to the Island, presently the policy of the Indian government is to leave Sentinel Island is strictly forbidden. During the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, Jarawa was used as a generic term to denote all the non – Great Andamanese tribes found in the Great Andaman Islands. Thus, no two groups of people were recognized and the term, though not the cognitive category is more specially used these days to describe the group of people among the two, who inhabits the Middle and South Andaman Islands. No one has been able to answer the question, with any degree of accuracy as to how and when the primitive tribal groups came to the Andamans. The study of the kitchen – midden of the Andamanese settlements revealed that the Negritos were present at least 2,000 years ago in the Great Andamans. Among the Andamanese tribes, Jarawa communities had arrived after the Great Andamanese in these Islands because the “Jarawa” word has been derived from the Great Andamanese language which means Stranger. Scientists from the Regional Medical Research Center (RMRC), Port Blair, and Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad have collected some four dozen blood samples from the Andamanese, Onges the Nicobares. The primary goal of this study of these blood samples is to find the tribe’s place on the human family tree. In a triangular project the CCMB, Anthropological Survey of Indian, and the University of Otago, New Zealand have pooled their expertise to conduct genetic.
A few words about the religious of these tribes. Their religiosity is no doubt akin to what is known as animism, a belief in the evil spirits of the woods, the sea, diseases and ancestors, and avoiding anything which is likely to displease them. The Jarawa Reserve came into existence due to their hostility and non – compliance with the needs of the colonists from 1858 and later during the occupation of the Islands by the Government of India. In 1956 the government notified areas in the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago as Tribal Areas exclusively for the native Islanders.
The ensuing population influx through colonization and rehabilitation schemes saw a number of such areas de-notified in 1979 and covert either into logging coupes, settlement for refugees or as sanctuaries, and reserved forests. Moreover, the physical boundary of such a reserved area was actually determined by open village farmlands, logging couples, and Bush Police outposts. The building of settlements and roads for the colonists depended on the topography of the land as well as on the contiguity with other settlements, each gradually connected by roads. The colonizing population being largely agricultural by occupation required flatlands for the cultivation of crops. Valleys and low land tropical giant evergreen forests were thus cleared to create living space for the colony.
In Middle Andamans, the eastern half of the Island was used for settlement, except in the northern part of the Island where both the eastern and the western coats were used for the purpose. Clear felling in flat lands and valleys, the establishment of many Bush Police outposts, and logging operation at different coupes succeeded in herding the Jarawa toward the west coast. Forestry operations adjacent to the reserve in South Andaman Island continued in spite of the Jarawa resistance till 1996. In that year a party of timber extraction personnel was surrounded by sixty or seventy Jarawas at Puttatang. In that incident, some laborers were killed and a few were injured.
Note: The aboriginal tribal population also needs protection and privacy in their territory.