Islander Advocates “Sister City” Relationship With North Sentinel Island

Side-by-side satellite images of North Sentinel Island and Mercer Island. [Mercer Island is on the right.] A local concerned citizen advocates a "sister city" relationship between the two communities.

A local concerned citizen appeared before the Mercer Island City Council this week, asking the city to establish a “sister city” relationship with North Sentinel Island, a community in the Indian Ocean whose inhabitants share many common values with long-time Mercer Island residents.

In a statement made during the Public Appearances portion of the December 4th meeting, Islander L. Eva Malone presented her case: “I had never heard of North Sentinel Island until last week, but the more I learned about it, the more I came to appreciate how effectively the Sentinelese people have preserved the small town, Island-first values that those of us who have lived here on Mercer Island for decades so fervently cherish. Our citizens, and more importantly, our city’s elected leadership, could learn a lot from them.”

Malone praised North Sentinel Island — at 23 square miles, only slightly larger than Mercer Island — for its go-slow approach to development, noting that the island is almost entirely covered by old-growth trees and has neither multi-story buildings in its town center nor single-family homes larger than one-thousand square feet. She stated that residents of the island have successfully resisted efforts by their state government to participate in regional transportation networks and retained preferential access to nearby HOC (high-occupancy canoe) lanes.

At press time, Distorter staff could not confirm or deny reports that the Sentinelese have built a community arts center on the site of a former park.

As part of Malone’s effort to build a relationship between the two communities, she has petitioned the Mercer Island School District to replace its current physical education programs with intensive training in archery and javelin. She is also partnering with social media service to establish an online presence for the Sentinelese.

After the meeting, an unnamed city council member was overheard describing the proposal as “intriguing,” adding, “I strongly encourage this citizen — and any fellow concerned citizens who share her views — to conduct a personal fact-finding mission to North Sentinel Island.”