African History

The Great Andamanese Of The Aboriginal Group Of Negrito Hunters And Gatherers In India – History, Survival, Culture And Economy

The indigenous people of Andamanese are the aboriginal group of Negrito hunters and gatherers living on the Island of Andaman and Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal with only four tribes;  Little Andaman Island, Great Andamanese of Strait Island, the Jarwas of the Middle Andamans and the Sentinelese of North Sentinel Island.

The Island is about 8293 square kilometres with approximately 7464 square km circulated with tropical rainforest. At the same time, the southern side is an offshore coral reef and crisscrossed with tidal creeks while the north and central islands are hilly. It witnesses 9 to 10 months of rainy seasons while experiencing dry seasons from February till the end of March.

Before the arrival of the British in 1858, they were over 6000 Andamanese living on the Island but were reduced during the war against the British that invaded their territories. Many were killed through influenza, syphilis, measles, and other war epidemics. Over 150 babies that were born died before the age of two.

The Andamanese, according to accounts, came from the Burmese and Malay coasts. In contrast, another statement claimed they came from Sumatra through the Nicobar Islands shares the same culture with the Orang Aslis of insular Southeast Asia.
Early 1788, the coral reefs, trade winds, as well as monsoons around the Island had caused lots of shipwrecks with the few Brits that survived the shipwrecks were killed by the Andamanese as they believe they were spies who came to inspect the islands. After lots of attempts to appease the Andamanese, the British in 1859 finally secured and established Port Blair – a penal colony on Middle Andamans. The islanders were at last pacified, and they worked with the British and also helped in apprehending escaped convicts. The white men established Andaman homes – a massive residence for the tribals to impose a mutual relationship by importing civilization. By 1875 the culture and tradition of the Andamanese began dwindling.

The use of imported diseases reduced the tribes drastically at the end of the 19th century. Those with conditions were killed by their tribe’s men to avoid its widespread, and the migration of the mainland settlers aided the decrease in population of the great Andamans. By 1901 the people of the islanders were 625. In 1931, the number dropped to 90. After India gained her independence, the Andamans went down to 25, and by 1969 the surviving 23 Andamans were relocated to Strait Island. There they started increasing by little which they recorded 52 in numbers.


The Great Andamanese Of The Aboriginal Group Of Negrito Hunters And Gatherers In India - History, Survival, Culture And Economy
The Great Andamanese – image credit:

The people of Andamanese had been living and surviving as hunters, and gatherers with the bow as their primary tool for hunting and fishing. At the same time, the debris of the irons gotten from the wrecked ships were used to form other weapons like the arrowheads, machetes, and so on. They fish with bows and arrows while standing in knee-level water. They also use lines and hooks, nets are being used for fishing, and gathering seafood like sea turtles, shellfish, crabs, etc. annually. The Ongees fish and gather turtles and dugongs with harpoons.


The Great Andamanese Of The Aboriginal Group Of Negrito Hunters And Gatherers In India - History, Survival, Culture And Economy
The Andamans – image credit:

To the Jarwas and Sentinelese, they majorly depended on hunting and gathering for their economy while the Ongees only gather fruits and get paid. The Ongees are the ones gathering coconuts for the welfare agency with food rations and industrial products in mainland India. The Indian government is paying the Great Andamans for taking care of the citrus fruits’ plantation.

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Buchi Prinzy Henry
An African writer with cravings to unearth all stolen, hidden, and unheard glories of Afrika. Mental emancipation is my mission. I write on History Category at

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