The Onge, also called [ö:ng] ‘we people’ by themselves, settled on the island called the Little Andaman south of the Great Andaman. See the map of There are two settlements of Onge on the island since 1976. One is known as the Dugong Creek settlement and the other is known as the South Bay settlement. A majority of them live in the forest reserve area of Dugong Creek. It is in the jungles of Dugong Creek that we got an opportunity to stay with the Onges in 2002.
At the time of our visit out of the 96 tribes, only 5 families comprising 15 members lived in South Bay. These families maintained communication with those living in the Dugong Creek reserve. The government provided each family [family is defined as ‘parents and non-married children’] with huts erected on stilts. In addition, each family was provided with a monthly ration of daal (pulses), oil, salt, biscuits, matchboxes and clothes to wear. Interestingly, each family was also provided with a portable transistor radio. It was very amusing to see an Onge walking in the jungle with the transistor blaring Hindi film music. Young Onge boys were seen to hum lines from Hindi songs without understanding a word of them.
At present, they have moved from the Dugong Creek reserve further into the Tandalu forest (Pandya 2005). Not only this, they have resumed their daily chores such as hunting, fishing and gathering from different parts of the forest. According to Pandya who visited Tandalu, Onges seemed happier than before the tsunami (giyangejebey 'land became water' in their language) havoc, as they were no longer living in the government-built prefabricated huts that were totally devastated by the tsunami aftereffects. Onges seemed contended, as now they were living in huts, entirely made by them, and which were similar to the traditional old huts they once lived in.
On the day tsunami approached the tribes ran deep into the forest and saved themselves. They are used to witnessing the various moods of nature and consider every phase as part of their life.