They Call Themselves ‘Human Beings’; Their History Dates Back 65,000 Years



There were sporadic reports more than half a century ago (but few since then) of indigenous tribes in deepest, darkest Africa or even South America that had, until someone ‘just’ stumbled upon them, had no contact with modern-day humans. While it is possible that more such usually-tiny groups may be found, it’s increasingly less likely as surveying the world from far above gets easier and easier.

Meanwhile, within an archipelago (a string of islands) in the Bay of Bengal, off northeast India stretching east toward Myanmar, there are several small-and-fading groups of people whose genetic history extends back some 65,000 years, to when their ancestors were among the first – if not the first – homo sapiens to migrate thousands of miles from Africa to this area.

For the most part, these tribal groups – the Jarawas, the Sentinelese, the Onges – continue to live as those ancient relatives did: As hunter-gatherers, depending solely on food sources nature provides. Items such as wild boar, turtles and their eggs, crabs, fruit, and honey. On the two islands they seldom stray from, they are nomadic, moving from area to area as the seasons, and their needs, dictate.

Until fairly recently, when outsiders came into their territories in the Andaman Islands either out of curiosity or as exploiters, these people remained unclothed, but did wear ornaments of various kinds and clay-based decorations on their skin. More recently, some have taken to wearing items of clothing obtained, no doubt obtained through doing ‘favors’, to/for outsiders.

The most-documented of these groups are those known to outsiders as Jarawas (“strangers)” and to themselves as “Yan-eng-nga,” which translates as ‘human being’.

They have a strong belief in monogamy, in forces of nature, and in ‘living lessons’ from their ancestors that, somehow, seem to outweigh many of the ‘values’ of outsiders’ beliefs and religions: [1] While there is little documentation of how these groups interact with each other, to the degree they do, reports on inter-group disagreements or ‘wars’ are noticeably absent; [2] A tsunami in 2004 that killed thousands in that part of the world apparently caused no harm to these indigenous people, who claim their ancestors gave them warning, causing them to flee to areas well above the coast.

There have been battles with outsiders, who for a while were allowed to occupy part of the natives’ land to cultivate it – a concept that’s foreign to the indigenous folk. But access to their ancestral lands has relatively recently been limited to the point that, with few exceptions, outsiders are not allowed to either go there or make contact with those with a history-given-right to peacefully live as they choose to.

That includes living free of diseases and other ailments of modern man.

Separate clinics have been set up for them, for when they choose to take advantage of ‘our’ medical advances, and government laws protect both their territories and their choice to remain isolated from the modern world.

Still, there are those who would invade their land, poach the animals they depend on for food, and even go so far as to take sexual advantage of their women.

Because these people so strongly believe in not mixing with outsiders, it is not unknown for them to kill a child born of a relationship between one of their women and someone from beyond their group, or tribe.

Beyond that, they don’t seem to practice (or to have ever practiced) forms of human sacrifice more ‘modern’ people have.

One senses, in reading about them, that they are, and live their lives, more nearly aligned with biblical depictions of ‘ideal’ people than any other people ever have. And they do so without a written language, with only oral history – with only the history of their own people, as its been passed along other the centuries. And they appear to survive with no ‘weapons’ beyond stone-age-era ones they need to kill the animals they depend on for life.

Theirs undoubtedly is a hard life, but it’s also a life free of the complications modern day man struggles to deal with on a daily basis.

I would never choose to live as they do, but I would love to know more about how they have managed, over literally tens of thousands of years, to remain ‘true’ to a lifestyle that seemingly suits them very well – as ours too often doesn’t!

I will be very appreciative if you will encourage your friends, family and colleagues to check out what my two blogs – Food and – do in the interest of providing information you might, otherwise, never become aware of. You never know: Some of my research could prove useful, or possibly amusing, to you (and/or them).

I also encourage you to check out the blogs of people I am following and Commotion In The Pews, a blog I stumbled upon a year or so ago. The author of the latter is a fascinating guy who cultivates the appearance of the character he plays through a good part of December each year: Santa Claus.



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