Meet the first woman to contact one of the world’s most isolated tribes
Anthropologist Madhumala Chattopadhyay floated coconuts to the Sentinelese in an unusually friendly exchange with a tribe hostile to outsiders.
The recent death of an American missionary on North Sentinel Island has put the remote island in the Bay of Bengal, officially off-limits to most outsiders for decades, back in the news and raised questions about the future of the Sentinelese, the island’s hunter-gatherer residents who have resisted outside contact for most of their known history.
In the later 20th century, the Indian government, which administers the Andaman and Nicobar islands archipelago to which North Sentinel belongs, attempted to make contact with the Sentinelese—attempts that usually ended with a volley of projectiles fired by the island’s residents from the shoreline. (In one event in the 1970s, the director of a National Geographic documentary about the Andamans was wounded by