Mandalorians and Tusken Raiders: Star Wars’ most unexpected friendship

Tusken Raider and bantha in THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. Image courtesy Disney+
Tusken Raider and bantha in THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. Image courtesy Disney+ /

Let’s uncover the unknown connection between Tatooine’s Tusken Raiders and the people that the Mandalorian belongs to.

Disney+’s The Mandalorian is a show that is filled with as many mysteries as it is revelations. One of these is the previously unknown relationship between Tatooine’s infamous Tusken Raiders and the Mandalorians. This intriguing connection was first established back during season 1 of The Mandalorian. Specifically, the Chapter 5 episode titled: “The Gunslinger” in which Din Djarin/Mando is forced to land on Tatooine after his ship suffers severe damage in a space battle against another bounty hunter.

This leads Djarin to make a bargain with a young up-comer named Toro Calican, who needs help in gaining entry into the Bounty Hunters Guild by capturing an assassin named Fennec Shand. Mando agrees in exchange for all of the money awarded for Shand’s capture/execution. The two men then proceed out into the Tatooine wastelands where they must gain passage to hunt on the Tusken Raider’s territory. It is here where we first witness the connection between the Mandalorian and Sand People.

Djarin surprised audiences with his rare, non-confrontational exchange, as well as his insight into how they view themselves and other non-Tuskens. According to Mando, they see themselves as the locals — and everyone else as the trespassers. Thus, explaining their hostile nature towards the moisture farmers and other settlers.

Furthermore, Djarin reveals how the Sand People communicate silently through sign language. Although, it’s unclear whether this was just to non-Tuskens, or to one another as well. This connection between the Mandalorian and the Raiders is further explored within Chapter 9, the season 2 premiere episode titled “The Marshal.”

In this episode, Djarin returns to Tatooine where he is following up on a lead about another fellow Mandalorian. Peli Motto, the Mos Eisley mechanic that previously fixed Mando’s ship, sends the bounty hunter on a journey to Mos Pelgo, a mining outpost that was said to harbor a fellow Mandalorian. Instead of finding one of his own kind, Djarin instead finds that the town’s marshal isn’t a Mandalorian at all. Rather, he is a former slave named Cobb Vanth that made a trade with some Jawas for the familiar-looking armor he wears.

Offended by seeing an auruetiise, or outsider, wearing his people’s armor, the two men are in the midst of a standoff, that is averted at the last minute by a greater krayt dragon passing through the town. Instead of a violent solution to the previous problem, the Mandalorian and the lawman strike a bargain. In exchange for returning the armor back to its rightful owner, Vanth seeks the Mando’s help in ridding his town of the danger posed by the massive sand leviathan.

This itself leads to yet another interaction between the Mandalorian and the Sand People. This second exchange between Mando and the Tusken Raider’s shows a deeper connection than was previously shown. Not only do we see the titular character speaking the language of the Sand People — completely replicated with all of the nuanced grunts and haws — but a friendly interaction between him and their lizard-canine-looking pet Massiffs as well.

Back at the Tusken’s camp, Mando shares his knowledge of their customs when he tells Vanth the importance of drinking the vile liquid from the desert gourd he is offered by one of the Raiders. Despite a rather tense moment following the marshal’s refusal to take the gift, Mando is able to prevent the argument from escalating by establishing his alpha status to the agitated Tusken.
The bounty hunter’s special relationship with the Tusken’s helps him to gain an ally for the marshal and his beleaguered town. This alliance extended beyond the mutual destruction of a common enemy by establishing that not all Sand People had to be Raiders. As this season’s premiere episode proved, they also possessed the capacity to co-exist with their fellow Tatooinians. In fact, as Mando pointed out, they were an honorable people that kept to their promises.

As many fans know by now, Din Djarin wasn’t the only Mandalorian that shared a special relationship with the Tuskens. The other was veteran bounty hunting legend and fellow Mandalorian — Boba Fett. The key to this relationship was the gaderffii stick he was first spotted carrying on Tatooine and that he later used to brutalize an entire squad of stormtroopers on Tython prior to reclaiming his iconic armor.

This leads to a logical conclusion that Boba was found and nursed back to health by a clan of Tusken Raiders sometime following his successful escape from inside the Sarlacc that had swallowed him. What then is this connection between the Mandalorians and the Tusken Raiders?

One possibility is a simple mutual respect between the two cultures. For one thing, both are cultures that embrace concealing one’s identity. For the Sand People, this can be attributed most likely to the harsh environment in which they live. But, it is also a matter of secrecy, as Tuskens often reveal their faces to only their mates or other close family members. Likewise, Mandalorians — particularly those foundlings raised under the Watch, like Din Djarin — adhered to a similar strict code of hiding their faces to any other living being.

Another similarity was the value each held for honoring one’s clan. Tusken Raiders demonstrated one of the most difficult tests for their youth to earn the rite of being recognized as an adult by sending them out into the Jundland Wastes to slay a krayt dragon. Those who were successful in this daunting task proved so by bringing back the pearl that they retrieved from inside the beast’s gut. This pearl held significance not only for the one who passed the herculean task but for their clan as well.

Mandalorians, while not pressed to do something quite as difficult, still earned respect for themselves by successfully completing their own trial by fire. This then gave them the rite to bear a special signet that would become associated with their clan. Legends also tell of how the ancient Mandalorians showed their prowess by conquering the mythosaur, behemoths of such epic proportions that it made the greater krayt dragon seem like dewbacks in comparison.

Equally impressive was the Ughnaut Kuiil’s claim that the ancestors of Mandalorians were said to have ridden these colossal beasts — which seems likely that they shared a bond with the mythosaurs that mirrored that of the Tusken Raiders and their banthas.

Considering the above comparisons, it’s no surprise then that Mandalorians and the Sand People could establish a friendship. But…what if there was even more to it than that? What if there was some shared DNA/kinship between the two?

Nearly everyone assumes that the Sand People were native to Tatooine, but what if they were themselves a people descended somehow from the people of Mandalore? It may seem a bit far-fetched, but so would have the revelation that Mandalorians and Tusken Raiders were pals to a Star Wars fan prior to the new canon.

Afterall, the Mandalorians were known to have been a nomadic culture since ancient times when they led their infamous crusades against the galaxy, and later the Old Republic. Could the roots of this friendship or — even their origins — be tied back to this time?

Finally, there is one other way to tie these two people together. With the Darksaber playing such an integral part in both Star Wars and Mandalorian mythology, what if we connected the dots a bit more and brought the legend of Tarre Vizla, the first Mandalorian Jedi into the shared history?

The Mandalorian, like the Rebels series before it, had been borrowing from Legends material and reincorporating it back into Star Wars canon. This brings to mind Star Wars two Tusken Jedi characters, Sharad Hett and his son, A’Sharad Hett, who later became Star Wars’ new Sith emperor, Darth Krayt. Speculatively speaking, how cool would it be if Tarre Vizsla had gone to Tatooine and found a force-sensitive Tusken, and then took it as his padawan?

Next. The Mandalorian offers a new perspective on Tusken Raiders. dark

So, what do you all think? Would that previously mentioned idea be one worth exploring for the Mandalorian and Tusken’s connection? Do any of you have your own theories of what bonds the Mandalorians and Tuskens together? Please feel free to leave your comments below.