- "These people lay ancestral claim to the Dune Sea, and if you are to pass, a toll is to be paid to them."
- ―Boba Fett, on the Tusken Raiders
Tusken Raiders, less formally referred to as Sand People or simply as Tuskens, were a culture of nomadic sentients indigenous to the desert planet Tatooine, where they were often hostile to local settlers. Tusken children were called Uli-ah. The name of Tusken Raiders was acquired much later, due to a period of concerted attacks on the settlement called Fort Tusken around eight decades before 19 BBY.
Tusken Raiders were a species native to the desert world of Tatooine. Their homeworld's harsh environment resulted in them being extremely xenophobic and territorial of their native resources, often attacking the outskirts of smaller settlements such as Anchorhead. They viewed themselves as Tatooine's locals and everyone else as trespassers. The Sand People believed that all water was sacred and promised to them, resulting in them raiding moisture farms set up by colonists. Rare water wells, such as Gafsa, were also sacred to Tuskens. An individual simply trespassing close to one of these water wells could provoke immediate violence. Additionally, Tusken Raiders harvested black melons which grew in the Jundland Wastes, providing them with a reliable source of milk. Worrts, a non-sentient species native to Tatooine, were considered a delicacy by the Tusken Raiders.
A nomadic culture, Tusken clan groups consisted of 20 to 30 individuals, and were led by clan leaders, tribal chiefs, and warlords. Tuskens traveled in single file to hide the number of individuals in their party. The culture of different tribes varied greatly, with some surviving by killing outsiders, while other tribes used more peaceful means. The Sand People communicated in Tusken, which can refer to their ordinary spoken language as well as a trade-based sign language employed when communicating with outsiders. At the age of 15, a Tusken became an adult, and the boys had to slay a krayt dragon and cut out the precious pearl found in its stomach to gain their adult role in their tribe. Tuskens inhabited encampments scattered across an area of the rocky Jundland Wastes known as The Needles, which were guarded from intruders by vicious massiffs.
Male Tusken Raiders were the warriors of their clans, often attacking vulnerable travelers that were unfortunate enough to wander through their territory. They wielded gaderffii sticks in combat, and used cycler rifles to fire on vehicles they spotted. Every Tusken warrior created their own gaderffii stick, making each one unique. Males wore rough wrappings and garments that provided protection and allowed ease of movement. Male Tuskens served as warriors, while females held a number of roles. In some tribes, females could be distinguished by their elaborate jeweled masks with eye-slits and torso-covering sand-shrouds. Tusken children, known as Uli-ah, wore unisex cowls and simple cloaks, and could not dress like males or females until they reached adulthood. All Sand People wore mouth grilles and eye coverings to retain moisture and keep sand out. However, their need to protect their bodies from Tatooine's weather grew into a taboo against exposing any part of their bodies in public. Because of this, Tuskens almost never unmasked themselves, even in front of one another. They were forbidden to remove their clothing in front of others except at childbirth, on their wedding night, and at coming-of-age ceremonies. In addition, no outsider is known to have seen behind a Tusken's mask and lived.
The Sand People and banthas shared a close, almost mystical bond. During warrior initiation rites, a young Tusken was given a bantha matching their own gender and learned to care for it, with the pair becoming extremely close as the youth earned a place in its clan. When Sand People married, their banthas also mated, and, should its rider die, their bantha usually perished shortly after. If a bantha died before its rider, its remains were placed in a large graveyard, which was treated with great respect by Tuskens and other banthas.
While the Tuskens were nominally hostile towards outsiders, one tribe did enter into an arrangement with the lawman Cobb Vanth, the Sheriff of Freetown. Vanth and the animal tamer Malakili secured the Tuskens' protection by supplying water and a pearl from the belly of a krayt dragon. These Tuskens also shared Vanth's hostility towards criminal elements, especially slavers. Another tribe accepted bounty hunter Boba Fett into their ranks when he had proved himself. Indeed, many Tuskens were known to negotiate with outsiders, with bounty hunter Din Djarin knowing he could earn safe passage through Tusken land in exchange for a tribute. Djarin also noted that Tuskens were known to always keep their word.
The Tusken tribe that accepted Boba Fett was in possession of a lizard that was capable of crawling inside a host being's body and creating hallucinations. The lizard was used by by the tribe to guide individuals on spiritual journeys. When Fett had such vision, he came across a wortwood tree in the desert, from which he broke a branch to forge his own gaderffii stick. The tribe also had a tradition of dancing around a campfire. When members of the tribe died, their bodies and weapons were gathered and burnt at a funeral pyre.
The Tuskens had superstitions about various landmarks on Tatooine. For example, the Tuskens avoided Mushroom Mesa at all costs and always fired their blasters before passing through the B'Thazoshe Bridge.
- "I…I killed them. I killed them all. They're dead, every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children too. They're like animals, and I slaughtered them like animals. I hate them!"
- ―Anakin Skywalker
When the oceans of Tatooine dried due to unknown reasons, the Sand People, having scattered into many different tribes, elected to mostly stay hidden from outsiders and colonists on their world.
Around eight decades prior to the proclamation of the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY, the settlement called Fort Tusken was established on the edge of the Badlands of the Jundland Wastes. It almost immediately faced attacks from the local Sand People. The settlers experienced considerable loss of life and goods, until they ultimately decided to abandon Fort Tusken. From that point on, the settlers of Tatooine referred to the Sand People as "Tusken Raiders."
In 32 BBY, during the Boonta Eve Classic, several Sand People camped out on Canyon Dune Turn. During the first lap, they took several pot shots at passing podracers with their slugthrowers. Though initially unsuccessful, on the second lap a Tusken managed to shoot down the podracer of pilot Teemto Pagalies, causing it to crash.
In 22 BBY, a month before the First Battle of Geonosis, Sand People attacked the Lars moisture farm and kidnapped Shmi Skywalker Lars, whom they imprisoned and tortured. Her son, the Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker, returned to Tatooine to rescue her, but after he found her in a Tusken camp, she died of her injuries. The vengeful Anakin proceeded to slaughter every nearby Tusken. Following the massacre, the Tuskens began to fear Skywalker as a vengeful desert demon, and began performing ritual sacrifices to ward him off, but they also came to learn of the connection between what had happened and the Lars family, resulting in the Tusken Raiders holding a grudge towards them for Skywalker's actions.
Age of the Empire
- "I think we better get indoors. The Sand People are easily startled but they will soon be back, and in greater numbers."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi
In 2 BBY, while searching for Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine, Padawan Ezra Bridger and C1-10P were ambushed by a group of Tusken Raiders, who succeeded in destroying their ship before being killed by the former Sith apprentice Maul.
Two years later, Anakin's son Luke was attacked by a young Tusken named A'Koba after venturing from his homestead to retrieve R2-D2. A'Koba, joined by two other members of A'Yark's tribe, A'Vor and his twin, began to raid Skywalker's X-34 landspeeder, but Obi-Wan Kenobi, who cloaked himself with his Jedi robes, then warded off the Tuskens by imitating the cry of a krayt dragon. Before they attacked Skywalker, A'Yark had warned the three young Tuskens about Kenobi, believing him to be a powerful shaman whom the air itself obeyed. Upon seeing the cloaked figure, the three recognized him as the so-called shaman they had been warned of and fled. After greeting R2 and Skywalker and recovering C-3PO, Kenobi proceeded to bring them to his home, as he understood that the Tuskens would return in larger numbers. Indeed, when A'Koba reunited with A'Yark, he wanted to go back with reinforcements. After advising caution, A'Yark let the three gather more Tuskens to return to the gorge, seeing it as part of a leadership rite.
Shortly after the Battle of Yavin, Anakin, now the Sith Lord Darth Vader, slaughtered a village of Tuskens prior to his meeting with bounty hunters Boba Fett and Krrsantan. Following the attack, a survivor showed other Tuskens the ruins of his village and the corpses of his people. These Tuskens then built a shrine to Vader and sacrificed the survivor.
Sometime after, a Tusken known as the "Jundland General" led his people in a series of coordinated strikes against the colonists of Tatooine. However, he and his followers were crushed by a group of mercenaries led by Saponza and his partner.
New Republic Era
- "I know these people. They are brutal. But so is the Dune Sea. They've survived for thousands of years in these sands and they know the krayt dragon better than anyone here. They are raiders, it's true. But they also keep their word."
- ―Din Djarin speaks of the Tuskens to the residents of Mos Pelgo
Following Commander Skywalker's rescue of Captain Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, a tribe of Tusken Raiders captured bounty hunter Boba Fett. They also captured a Rodian. When Fett attempted to escape, he was defeated by one of the raiders, though he began to earn their respect upon defeating a Tatooine sand ape. A warrior instructed Fett how to fight with a Gaderffii stick, and Fett taught members of the tribe how to use speeder bikes. Eventually, after leading the tribe into a victory against an interloping Pyke Syndicate repulsortrain that had attacked the tribe on multiple occasions, Fett was inducted into the tribe. The Tuskens used a lizard that crawled inside Fett's body, giving him a vision and making him walk in the desert, until he came across a Wortwood tree, from which he broke a branch to forge his own gaderffii stick in a Gaderffii stick workshop. However, the tribe was massacred some time later, by the Pyke Syndicate, who painted the symbol of a speeder bike gang known as the Kintan Striders to put the blame on them.
Prior to the Battle of Jakku, the Sheriff of Freetown, Cobb Vanth, struck a deal with local Tusken Raiders to protect his settlement from criminal elements. Like Vanth's community, the Tuskens despised criminals particularly slavers. When the Red Key Raiders under crime lord Lorgan Movellan captured Freetown, the Tusken tribe ambushed the criminals and liberated the town.
In 9 ABY, the Mandalorian Din Djarin reluctantly teamed up with rookie bounty hunter, Toro Calican. The two set out on speeder bikes across the Dune Sea to capture the Master Assassin Fennec Shand. On their way to the target, they encountered some Tusken Raiders. The Mandalorian negotiated through sign language to allow them safe passage through their land. The Tuskens allowed this, in exchange for the rookie bounty hunter's binoculars, which Djarin willingly gave to them in spite of Calican's objection.
Some time after, a group of Tuskens allied themselves with Djarin and Cobb Vanth to team up and take down a massive krayt dragon living nearby. Having studied the dragon's digestive cycle for generations, the Tusken Raiders attempted make the dragon sleep longer by feeding a bantha to it, but the animal devoured a Tusken instead. Being out of ideas how to handle the dragon, the group joined forces with the people of Freetown, now once again known as Mos Pelgo. In exchange for their collaboration, the Tuskens promised to not attack Mos Pelgo again unless one of the villagers broke the peace. The Tuskens were also promised the corpse and ichor from the dragon. To take down the beast, Vanth and his men contributed explosives and worked alongside the Tuskens, who set up ballistas. Despite several Tuskens being eaten by the dragon, the group succeeded in killing the beast when Djarin sprung their explosives. The Tuskens then butchered the carcass, with one member finding a pearl inside, which greatly excited the tribe.
In 34 ABY, during his self-imposed exile on Ahch-To, the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker had a dream where he ignored Princess Leia Organa's message and never joined the rebellion. In his dream, two decades had passed since any Tusken Raider had been seen on his side of Anchorhead and that nothing was left of them except for bones. Luke noted that for some reason, it made him feel sad.
Behind the scenes
The Tuskens appeared initially in the second draft of Star Wars: A New Hope, as Imperial spies deployed as a platoon onto the surface of Tatooine to search for whatever had brought Deak Starkiller to that planet. They appeared to be humanoid, with red eyes, and drove distinctive landspeeders. They became a native people of Tatooine in the third draft.
- William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First (Mentioned only)
- Disney Infinity 3.0
- Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars – "From Trenches to Wrenches: The Roger Story" (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars – "The Prisoner of Tatooine" (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Notes and references
- Star Wars Journeys: Beginnings
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Head-to-Head
- Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
- The Book of Boba Fett – "Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine"
- Star Wars: Commander
- The Mandalorian – "Chapter 5: The Gunslinger"
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition
- Star Wars (2015) 7
- Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- "Time of Death"—From a Certain Point of View
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Aftermath: Empire's End
- The Mandalorian – "Chapter 9: The Marshal"
- Star Wars: Complete Locations
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 11 (Weapons & Uniforms: Inhabitants of Tatooine)
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- According to Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Updated and Expanded, Maul's final confrontation with Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Twin Suns" happened thirty years after Kenobi first saw him on Tatooine. Since Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates that event to 32 BBY, Kenobi and Maul's final confrontation happened in 2 BBY. Galactic Atlas dates the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope to 0 BBY, meaning two years passed between the events of Twin Suns and Luke Skywalker being attacked by A'Koba.
- Star Wars Rebels – "Twin Suns"
- "Rites"—From a Certain Point of View
- Darth Vader (2015) 1
- "Coda"—Darth Vader 25
- The Book of Boba Fett – "Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land"
- The Book of Boba Fett – "Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine"
- The Book of Boba Fett – "Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa"
- The Book of Boba Fett – "Chapter 7: In the Name of Honor"
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition
- The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film
- (Slide 5)
- Tusken Raiders on Wikipedia
- Star Wars Sand People Under the Tusken Sun
- Tusken Raiders on the Family Guy Wiki