Tusken Raider
"Those Tuskens walk like men, but they're vicious, mindless monsters."
Cliegg Lars[src]

Tusken Raiders, less formally referred to as Sand People or simply as Tuskens, were a culture of nomadic, primitive sentients indigenous to Tatooine, where they were often hostile to local settlers. The term Sand People was given to them due to their existence in the desert, and was in use from at least around 4,000 BBY; but the more formal name of Tusken Raiders was acquired much later, due to a period of concerted attacks on the settlement at Fort Tusken in 98-95 BBY. This later became the definitive name for the species.

Specialists studying the past of the Tusken Raiders also used the term Ghorfa to denote an earlier sedentary phase of their culture, and lastly Kumumgah, for the earliest stratum of sentient civilization on the planet, believed by some to represent a common ancestry shared by the Ghorfa and the Jawas. �


[hide]*1 Biology and appearance

Biology and appearanceEdit

[1][2]A Tusken Raider male.:"They're like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals. I hate them!"

Anakin Skywalker[src]

It was stated by A'Sharad Hett, while on a mission to Aargonar with Anakin Skywalker, that Tusken Raiders were biologically incompatible with Humans. This implies that Tusken Raiders comprised a non-Human species.

Sand People were known to adopt settler orphans, such as K'Sheek, after raids on Human settlements and convoys, in a similar fashion to Mandalorians. Also, the Jedi Knight Sharad Hett won a place in their tribes through his great combat prowess. Beyond these isolated and uncommon incidents, there is no indication that Humans were present in any great number amongst the Tuskens.

Scientific studies of the few corpses found were said to have been inconclusive, and while in part, the lack of detailed knowledge can be accounted for by the hostility of the Tatooine climate, and in part, by the hostility of the Tusken Raiders themselves, it should be borne in mind that knowledge of the Sand People—or what was thought to be known about them—was very often based on uncertain and inferential evidence. However, A'Sharad Hett's claim that he learned of the Tusken-Human incompatibility, combined with his first-hand knowledge of the Tuskens, is compelling evidence that they were a different species.

It is thought that Tuskens and Jawas shared common ancestry in the Kumumgah, who were taken off world by the Infinite Empire to work as slaves on other planets. Since the Kumumgah were considered a possible origin species for Humanity, it is possible that Tuskens and Humans shared ancestry; however, the connection was not close enough to allow inter-breeding, and their unmasked appearance was distinctive. Anakin Skywalker recognized immediately that the unmasked A'Sharad Hett was not genetically a Tusken Raider; this indicates that he was familiar with the appearance of Tuskens under their masks. Later, Skywalker had a nightmare in which a Tusken appeared partially unmasked; however, it is not known whether this appearance represented their true form or was simply a "bogeyman", derived from Anakin's imagination.

Society and cultureEdit

The desert lifeEdit

[3][4]A Tusken Raider wielding a gaderffii.:"On Tatooine, the very air and sunlight are one's enemies."

Sharad Hett[src]

Tusken culture was defined first and foremost by the climatic extremes of Tatooine: barren wastes stretching for days' journey on end, scoured by harsh, arid winds and searing heat by day; icy, deadly stillness after dark.

Practical survival was the first priority in terrain like this, and to protect themselves, the Sand People learned early in their existence to cover themselves from head to foot in desert-colored rags and robes, leaving no bare skin exposed to the elements. It is perhaps no surprise that these outward trappings came to be the most basic tokens of Tusken Raiders identity—their mode of dress was, after all, a direct expression of their way of life.

Story telling was a large part of Tusken culture. Stories would be told by the scholar of each tribe and would be passed down through the generations. If the story teller spoke one word incorrectly, he would be killed outright for blasphemy. [4][5]

The Tuskens were divided into small tribes or clans, and roamed widely across the desert surface of Tatooine, but the focus of their habitation-patterns seems to have been the Jundland Wastes, the one major area of rocky upland that rose clear of the shifting sands: in particular, the traditional sandstorm-season encampments of many clans were concentrated area known as the The Needles. They raided widely through both the Jundland Wastes and the Dune Sea, however, and any creatures, particularly offworlders, were subject to their savage attacks. Traveling on trained banthas, raiding parties would swiftly appear from the desert, riding in single file to conceal their numbers, and then disappear back into the cover of the dunes with trophies and prisoners. Due to their lack of advanced technology, their primitive society and viciousness, they were considered barbaric monsters by most of the galactic populace.

Although Tusken garb varied from tribe to tribe, certain aspects of dress remained constant. The eyes of Sand People were covered with goggles or visors which shielded them from the harsh sunlight. Below the eyes two pipes protruded from the mask, most likely to facilitate breathing. A constantly open mouthpiece covered the area between the nose and jaw, while a moisture trap worn around the neck humidified the air taken into the lungs. Sand People were also recognizable by their fierce gaderffii weapons. While rejecting most examples of modern technology, long-barreled Tusken Cycler rifles and stoves made of scavenged or stolen metal were not uncommon. � [5][6]Common Tusken garb during the time of the Jedi Civil War.Female Tuskens wore variations upon the male Tusken garb (though in some tribes, males and females wore the same), often incorporating womp rat tusks into their attire: in some tribes, their role seem to have involved maintaining the encampments while the males raided and hunted, but in other groups, perhaps more strictly nomadic in outlook, they may have lived and hunted more closely alongside their menfolk. Tusken children wore unisex masks; gender-specific coverings were not allowed until after they became adults.

Tuskens were forbidden to take off their protective clothing in front of others, except in a few very specific circumstances: at childbirth, on their wedding night and during coming-of-age rituals (two events which were often one and the same), and as adults, only in the privacy of their tents with their blood-bound mates. Breaking this rule meant either banishment or death, depending on the specific tribe rules.

The emphasis on outward appearance and concealment of physical form also enabled—and disguised—one of the most striking elements of Tusken culture: although the Sand People were regarded as alien savages by Tatooine's Human colonists, an unknown proportion of the Tusken population were, at least by the last decades of the Galactic Republic, every bit as Human as the settlers themselves.

Social organizationEdit

"It's the misguided traveler who tempts the Tuskens' hospitality."
―Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker[src]

[7][8]A female Tusken Raider.Sand People organized into clans and tribes, the former being kin-groups of between 20 to 30 beings, and the latter being larger affinities with no strict bounds. In a typical tribe, the adult males typically assumed the role of hunter and protector, often leaving their camps for an extended period of time. Females, often accompanied by massiff guard animals, cared for the children, known as uli-ah, and the seasonal camps. After completing the rites of adulthood at the age of fifteen, the uli-ah were granted full status within the tribe and paired for marriage in a ceremony involving blood exchanges between the male, female and their banthas.

The bantha was another vital element of Tusken culture, a large, shaggy-coated quadruped capable of surviving for long stretches in the harsh terrain of the deserts; some banthas roamed wild, but the Sand People had learned to domesticate them. Every Tusken had their own mount from childhood, and they rode bantha-back for journeys of any length: small scouting parties of two or three mounts, or entire clan communities on seasonal migrations, they traveled through the dunes and rock-formations on the shoulders of their mounts, in single line.

Tuskens subsisted primarily on hubba gourds, and moisture farmers took great humor in the fact that they became intoxicated on just a few sips of sugar water. It is unknown if there was a carnivorous facet to their diet.

While leading a lifestyle that was primarily nomadic, there were two exceptions to the rule: when the hot season was at its height, semi-permanent camps would be constructed; and particular caves or hollows, spiritually connected to certain clans (usually where the dead would be buried or special ceremonies would be held) were frequently visited. Special water wells such as the one in Gafsa Canyon, sacred due to their rarity, were often vehemently protected. � [9][10]A young Tusken Raider. Tusken Raider children were called Uli-ah.


"Their cultural heritage is rich and rigid, unchanged after many difficult centuries on Tatooine."
Mammon Hoole[src]

Many rituals held Sand People society together. In many tribes, adolescent Sand People were tasked with a ritual known as "bloodrite", in which a youth proved their hunting skills by capturing a creature and fatally torturing it with techniques extending the pain for weeks before death. Most opted for creatures like dewback or desert wraid, but the greatest prestige was reserved for a hunter who performed the rite upon a sentient being. The most prestigious test of an adult male was to hunt and slay a krayt dragon, and retrieve a pearl from its stomach. Oftentimes, members of the tribe would create spirit masks out of natural materials for use in the ensuing ritual and celebration.

Additionally, Tuskens occasionally enjoyed firing upon podracers who participated in the Boonta Eve Races, as a sort of sport and show of marksmanship, and as retaliation for the intrusion of their lands.

A unique bond existed in Tusken culture between the riders and their bantha mounts, and when a mount died, the rider was often left behind to wander the desert alone. They held that if the fallen bantha's spirit wished for the rider to find a new mount, it would be so. If not, the rider would die amongst Tatooine's endless dunes. The bond worked both ways, as accounts have been told of riderless banthas intentionally stampeding over cliffs. The rest of the tribe considered the unbonded individual to be pitiable, but did not scorn that person. Han Solo and Luke Skywalker witnessed the exile of one Sand Person who had lost his bantha in 12 ABY.[6]

Anakin Skywalker became a legend after he slaughtered a tribe of Sandpeople out of revenge for killing Shmi Skywalker Lars. He was depicted as a vengeful ghost or desert demon, and the Tuskens made ritual sacrifices to ward him off, putting stolen artwork, and other valuables, even Human sacrifices, such as Kitster Banai, in the place where the tribe was murdered.[7]


"Should you try to converse in Tusken, lower the pitch of your voice as much as possible. Try to growl and grunt as you form the sounds from the phonetics that follow… A lot of phlegm will help."
Ebenn Q3 Baobab[src]

[11][12]A Tusken shaman telling a story.The Sand People spoke a guttural language known as Tusken. Many individual names were long and marked by numerous stops, such as Grk'Urr'Akk, Grk'kkrs'arr, Orr'Agg'Rorr Orrh Or'Ur and Orr'UrRuuR'R. However, shorter names like Sliven were also recorded in some clans, and some Tuskens, like A'Sharad Hett and his mother K'Sheek bore patronymic (and perhaps matronymic) names formed from a parent's given name and a prefix: A meaning "son of" and apparently K, "daughter of".

Other known Tusken words include urtah (carrying pack) and urtya (light tent). As a rule, Tuskens also possessed a rudimentary knowledge of Huttese and Jawaese, as they came into contact with these languages quite frequently.

With no written language, the Sand People relied on oral history to pass down the legends and stories of their people. As such, storytellers were held in the highest regard and charged with the responsibility of memorizing by rote the story of every clan member and piece of clan history. For apprentice storytellers, the pressure to memorize the stories precisely was intense: a single mistake meant death.[8] If an apprentice storyteller successfully recited a story perfectly, he became the clan's storyteller —while the old one wandered off into the desert forever.


"The Tuskens are. That, they say, is all anyone needs to know."

[13][14]Tusken Raiders attacking a campsite.The Kumumgah once lived apart from the land in great cities all over the then lush world of Tatooine. Over millennia the Kumumgah began to achieve space travel across the outer and beyond worlds and Tatooine became a bright center in the Universe. Unfortunately this drew attention to the Rakata and so began to invade their territory. Therefore the Kumumgah Rebellion had begun. Stories persist that the Kumumgah defied the Infinite Empire some time between 50,000 and 25,200 BBY, and were punished by orbital bombardment, which slagged the surface of Tatooine into little more than fused glass; this crumbled over the subsequent tens of thousands of years, and became desert sand.

After Tatooine was rediscovered by the Galactic Republic in around 5,000 BBY, early Human settlers were believed to have disrupted the water-supply of a settled cave-dwelling society known as Ghorfa culture, precipitating the transformation of the natives into the nomadic Sand People. To survive, they were forced to steal and adapt the technology of the colonists, forging the distinctive desert survival gear by which they would subsequently become so well-known. By around 4,000 BBY, they were also engaged in endemic low-level warfare with the settlers, raids which were among the factors that forced Czerka Corporation to abandon their attempts to operate Tatooine as a mining world, and which, incidentally, allowed the Jawas to shrewdly take control of the miners' abandoned sandcrawlers as mobile clan fortresses, giving rise to the modern settlement pattern of Tatooine's second native sapient species.

Tatooine was, it seems, largely forgotten by the wider galaxy for the next few thousand years, and indeed, the planet apparently had to be formally rediscovered in 1,100 BBY. By the sixth century BBY, however, a mining colony had been reestablished, and the key moment in the history of the Sand People and their relations with the outlanders occurred in around 550 BBY, when they encountered an offworlder and rogue named Alkhara. � [15][16]Tuskens raidingInitially, Alkhara was an operative of the colony's Bureau of Ethnology and Socialization, studying the Sand People, and seemingly gaining their trust. Eventually, however, he turned against the colonists and occupied the desert fortress that would be used in later centuries by the B'omarr Monks and Jabba the Hutt. It is not clear how closely his banditry was connected with his relations with the Sand People, but in the most notorious incident of his career, he allied himself with a group of Sand People whose bivouacs lay on the Great Mesra Plateau to wipe out a police garrison, then afterwards turned on his Sand Person confederates, and destroyed their camp. This, it is claimed, was the source of a subsequent blood feud between the natives and the outlanders.

Permanent settlement by offworlders—or outlanders—only seems to have resumed in 100 BBY, with the arrival of the settler ship Dowager Queen from Bestine IV. A new planetary capital called Bestine was founded, and a second settlement called Fort Tusken was established at the northern tip of the Jundland range. At first, the new colonists seem to have been unaware of the Sand People, but a series of attacks between 98 and 95 BBY forced the abandonment of Fort Tusken, and from that point on, the Human settlers of Tatooine referred to the natives as "Tusken Raiders".