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"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[src]

Tusken Raiders, less formally referred to as Sand People or simply as Tuskens, were a culture of nomadic, primitive sentients indigenous to the desert planet Tatooine, where they were often hostile to local settlers. Tusken children were called Uli-ah.


"A moisture farm? Poor locals never stood a chance. The Sand People think all water is sacred and was promised to them."
Saponza to his partner after discovering a moisture farm ravaged by Tusken Raiders[src]

A group of Tusken raiders

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.[6] They viewed themselves as Tatooine's locals and everyone else as trespassers.[7] The Sand People believed that all water was sacred and promised to them, resulting in them raiding moisture farms set up by colonists.[8] 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.[9] Additionally, Tusken Raiders harvested black melons which grew in the Jundland Wastes, providing them with a reliable source of milk.[10]

A nomadic culture,[11] 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.[12] The Sand People communicated in Tusken, which was both a spoken and sign language. At the age of 15, a Tusken became an adult, and had to slay a krayt dragon and cut out the precious pearl found in its stomach[5] to gain their adult role in their tribe.[9] Tuskens inhabited encampments scattered across an area of the rocky Jundland Wastes known as The Needles,[5] which were guarded from intruders by vicious massiffs.[13]

Male Tusken Raiders were the warriors of their clans, often attacking vulnerable travelers that were unfortunate enough to wander through their territory.[1] They wielded gaderffii sticks in combat, and used cycler rifles to fire on vehicles they spotted.[3] 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.[5] Male Tuskens served as warriors, while females held a number of roles.[9] Females could be distinguished by their elaborate jeweled masks with eye-slits and torso-covering sand-shrouds. Tusken children,[3] known as Uli-ah,[9] wore unisex cowls and simple cloaks,[3] and could not dress like males or females until they reached adulthood.[5] All Sand People wore mouth grilles and eye coverings to retain moisture and keep sand out.[5] 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.[5] In addition, no outsider is known to have seen behind a Tusken's mask and lived.[9]

Tusken Raiders were a hostile warrior race.

The Sand People and banthas shared a close, almost mystical bond. During warrior initiation rites, a young Tusken was given a bantha[6] matching their own gender[5] and learned to care for it, with the pair becoming extremely close as the youth earned a place in its clan.[3] 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.[5]

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.[14] Tuskens were also known to negotiate with outsiders, as demonstrated by the bounty hunter Din Djarin earning safe passage through Tusken land in exchange for a pair of new binoculars.[7] Djarin also noted that Tuskens were known to always keep their word.[15]

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.[16]


Pre-Clone Wars[]

"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[src]

A group of Tusken Raiders camped out on the Canyon Dune Turn.

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 projectile rifles. Though initially unsuccessful, on the second lap a Tusken managed to shoot down the podracer of pilot Teemto Pagalies, causing it to crash.[17]

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.[13] Following the massacre, the Tuskens began to fear Skywalker as a vengeful desert demon, and began performing ritual sacrifices to ward him off,[5] 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.[11]

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[src]

Tusken Raiders destroy Ezra's ship.

In 2 BBY,[18] 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.[19]

Two years later,[18] Anakin's son Luke was attacked by a[12] young Tusken named A'Koba[20] after venturing from his homestead to retrieve R2-D2.[12] A'Koba, joined by two other members of A'Yark's tribe, A'Vor and his twin,[20] 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.[12] 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.[20] 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.[12] 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.[20]

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 Black Krrsantan.[21] 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.[22]

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.[8]

New Republic Era[]

"Tusken Raiders. I heard the locals talking about this filth."
"Tuskens think they're the locals. Everyone else is just trespassing."
"Whatever they call themselves, they best keep their distance."
"Yeah? Why don't you tell them yourself?"
―Toro Calican and Din Djarin, about to run into some Tusken Raiders[src]

Three Tuskens firing their slugthrowers at a passing speeder.

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. In return for protecting Freetown, the Tusken tribe received water and a pearl from the belly of a Krayt dragon. 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.[14]

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 rogue 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.[7]

Some time after, a group of Tuskens allied themselves with Djarin, Cobb Vanth, and the people of Freetown, now once again known as Mos Pelgo, to team up and take down a massive krayt dragon living nearby. 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.[15]

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.[23]

Behind the scenes[]

Tusken Raiders concept art by Ralph McQuarrie.

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.[24]

For the Star Wars Rebels episode "Twin Suns," the Tusken Raiders were designed to not have flowing robes to save valuable time and resources in animation rendering.[25]

A Tusken Raider in episode five of season one of The Mandalorian was played by Troy Kotsur, who was the first ever deaf actor to play a character in a Star Wars installment.[source?]

The Tusken raiders' barking speech was created by sound designer Ben Burtt using the sound of donkeys braying[5] and Tunisian mules barking and echoing off canyon walls.[26]


Non-canon appearances[]


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Star Wars Journeys: Beginnings
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Head-to-Head
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 StarWars.com Encyclopedia Tusken Raiders in the Encyclopedia (content now obsolete; (backup link)
  4. Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
  6. 6.0 6.1 StarWars.com Encyclopedia bantha in the Encyclopedia (content now obsolete; (backup link)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The-Mandalorian-logo.png The Mandalorian – "Chapter 5: The Gunslinger"
  8. 8.0 8.1 Star Wars: Commander
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition
  10. Star Wars (2015) 7
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Time of Death"—From a Certain Point of View
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
  13. 13.0 13.1 Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
  14. 14.0 14.1 Aftermath: Empire's End
  15. 15.0 15.1 The-Mandalorian-logo.png The Mandalorian – "Chapter 9: The Marshal"
  16. Star Wars: Complete Locations
  17. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  18. 18.0 18.1 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.
  19. Rebels-mini-logo.png Star Wars Rebels – "Twin Suns"
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 "Rites"—From a Certain Point of View
  21. Darth Vader (2015) 1
  22. "Coda"—Darth Vader 25
  23. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition
  24. The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film
  25. StarWars.com Twin Suns Trivia Gallery on StarWars.com (backup link) (Slide 5)
  26. StarWars.com Drawing from the Present: Familiar Creatures in a Galaxy Far, Far Away on StarWars.com (backup link)

External links[]