Last Member of an Ancient Tribe Dies…and a Language is Lost

Sunday, February 07, 2010
Boa Sr (photo:

When Boa Sr, the last remaining member of the Bo tribe on the Andaman Islands, died last week, she took with her an ancient language. The 85-year-old woman was the oldest of all the Great Andamanese people, who now number 52. But she was the only one left who spoke Bo, which had been around for 65,000 years. Boa Sr reportedly spent her last years feeling isolated since the death of her husband, the only other person she could converse with in her native language.

There were 5,000 Great Andamanese when the British arrived in 1858, but most of them were killed by the British or by diseases they brought with them. In 1970, the remaining members of the tribe were moved to Strait Island.
The ten Great Andamanese tribes are considered the original inhabitants of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which lie 750 miles off the east coast of India. Most of the 300,000 current inhabitants are recent immigrants from the mainland.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
The Bo Vanishes: Death of a Civilization (by Gloria Riviera, ABC News)


Leave a comment