Tusken Raiders Expanded

Our first look at the sandpeople AKA Tusken Raiders, is a brief violent attack in A New Hope. For a very long time, that was it. Kenobi’s comments that they are easily startled by krayt dragon calls and ride in single file to hide their numbers. That’s all we knew.

And of course, they rode on giant, hairy steeds with curly horns, known as banthas.

McQuarrie Tusken Raider storyteller
McQuarrie Tusken Raider storyteller from the Illustrated Guide to the Star Wars Galaxy

The Illustrated Star Wars Galaxy changed that. Using McQuarrie illustrations, we were taken into their world from the point of view of anthropologist and shapeshifter, Hoole. The sandpeople showed no difference between the sexes, all wrapped in the same garb and sharing duties. The very young became full members of the tribe at around ten years old.  Most important, they never shed their masks or clothes. It was anathema and would lead to the perpetrator being cast out.  It was said in legend it came of one of the suns (the brother) attacking the other, and showing his true face. So now the one eternally pursued the other. 

Sandpeople art

Based on hints in Dawn of the Jedi and others, this may have been based on the use of a super weapon on the primitive natives of Tatooine, which turned it’s lush beauty into the desert millennia ago. These natives, the Kumumgah, split into the Sandpeople and Jawas.  Some of this is also revealed in Star Wars the Old Republic the video game. The Rakata presence is explored in the planetary story quest.  There are also hints in some of the character stories when they visit, such as the Sith Warrior. It’s revealed that at some point in time the Sandpeople did have a form of writing or artistry that told the story of their past in paintings. This apparently was eventually lost as by the time of the rebellion.  In Darksaber it’s revealed that not only was the tradition largely oral, but if the new trainee speaker should make a single mistake, they would be killed for it.

Also fatal was to lose a hand or limb in combat. Combat with a creature like a krayt dragon was a rite of initiation. But there is no mercy for the weak or maimed. Those so crippled committed ritual suicide. Often, their banthas, with whom they formed a special bond, would mourn to the point of wandering alone into the desert to die as well.

Years later, the new Dark Horse Comics Star Wars series, set in the Prequel era fires up and gives us new views.

Tusken Raiders Expanded
Asharad VS Krayt, Outlander story arc, Republic comics

Soon to be called Star Wars Republic, it visits Tatooine early on. It turns out the former Jedi, Sharad Hett is living among the tribes, with a son, and calling himself a war leader. It’s more than simple settler vs Tusken fighting: the Hutt’s are involved, stoking the conflict to sell weapons. Sharad’s tribe fairs badly at the hand of the Hutt’s and this begins a cultural change. Asharad Hett, his son, goes on to join the Jedi. We witness Asharad Hett’s hunting trail where he must slay a mighty creature, in this case, a krayt dragon.

The few Tusken raiders seen without masks are gray faced with feline like muzzles. (Dark Forces 2. These are outcasts and were taken off world by Dark Jedi.) They cannot interbreed with humans, so the matches among Tuskens have to be carefully chosen to allow the tribe to flourish. Hence Asharad’s parents were both human.

Attack of the Clones revealed what appeared initially to be conflicts with our established views of Tuskens. We saw them as having brutally tortured Shmi Skywalker to death. But we see woman and children are garbed differently, unlike those Hoole encountered. This incident too, would have a profound effect on the tusken culture. Anakin Skywalker took his revenge on the entire tribe.

Between the loss of Hett’s clan and then the clan Skywalker decimated, the numbers remaining of the Tusken warriors were fewer. Losses which would’ve have been absorbed before were no longer easily accepted. They had long kidnapped people to add to their numbers, but it was no longer enough.

Kenobi, the novel of this character’s life on Tatooine, reveals much.

 Tribes, adapting to the loss had finally accepted their woman as warriors, explaining the differences Hoole discovered from the sandpeople of Attack of the Clones era, as well as the other apparent conflicts in the Expanded Universe. 

Between this, and opportunities in the Knights of the Old Republic game, one sees that the sandpeople can, on occasion, be negotiated with. One man even came close to succeeding in brokering peace but was stopped by the Empire (Tales of Mos Eisley anthology.)

There are even a few cases of Tusken Raiders being taken off world to act as security to places like Sulon. Given their nature, I suspect these may have been outcasts even of their own people. However it’s also possible they were kidnapped, as they were in Children of the Jedi.

The sandpeople for the most part are revealed to dislike technology although they did make exceptions in rare cases. In Knights of the Old Republic and Kenobi they were willing to trade for vaporators. While they blames the settlers and their vaporators for stealing the water from the sky, they were occasionally willing to take the devices when their tribes were in desperate need. The sandpeople marry quite young as well, only their mate ever sees their face and that briefly.

tusken-burial-siteIn Tatooine Ghost, we find that Anakin Skywalker’s actions in slaughtering the sandpeople that killed his mother had long lasting affects. Some of this is seen in Kenobi, but far from discouraging them from abusing and murdering people, they now ‘sacrifice’ to this ‘angry ghost’.

In Children of the Jedi,  Luke Skywalker relates stories of unscrupulous people giving the sandpeople sugar water to make them drunk.  We also have confirmation that the sandpeople who live in the wide wastes, canyons and caverns of Tatooine do not take well at all to being confined in the much hated techology.

Famous members include:

  • Alkhara (rogue human?)
  • Sharad Hett (Former Jedi, adopted human)
  • Asharad Hett (Former Jedi, born of adopted humans)
  • Plug Eye (Leader of a small tribe, a rare female)
  • Tahiri Veila (Jedi, adopted human)

Sandpeople undergroundFind Out More about Tusken Raiders:

  • Illustrated Star Wars Galaxy
  • Dark Forces Jedi Knight 2 (game, novella)
  • Knights of the Old Republic (game)
  • Star Wars the Old Republic (game)
  • The Last One Standing (an Obi Wan story by Jude Watson)
  • Drawing the Maps of Peace: The Moisture Farmer’s Tale (Tales of Mos Eisley short story)
  • Dark Horse Comics: Empire: Darklighter story arc
  • Dark Horse Comics: Republic: Outlander story arc
  • Tatooine Ghost by Troy Denning
  • Children of the Jedi by Barbarah Hambly
  • Darksaber by Kevin J. Anderson


Read More about these characters:


Illustrated Star Wars Galaxy

Tahiri Veila
Tahiri – The New Jedi Order – The Final Prophecy by Gregory Keyes
Japanese cover art: Tsuyoshi Nagano

Tahiri Veila

Junior Jedi Knights
(by Nancy Richardson and Rebecca Moesta)

  • The Golden Globe (First appearance)
  • Lyric’s World
  • Promises
  • Anakin’s Quest
  • Vader’s Fortress
  • Kenobi’s Blade

New Jedi Order
(by multiple authors)

  • Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
  • Edge of Victory I: Conquest
  • Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
  • Star by Star
  • Dark Journey
  • Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream
  • Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand
  • Destiny’s Way
  • Ylesia
  • Force Heretic I: Remnant
  • Force Heretic II: Refugee
  • Force Heretic III: Reunion
  • The Final Prophecy
  • The Unifying Force

Dark Nest
(by Troy Denning)

  • The Joiner King
  • The Unseen Queen
  • Swarm War

Legacy of the Force
(By multiple authors)

  • Legacy of the Force: Betrayal
  • Legacy of the Force: Inferno
  • Legacy of the Force: Revelation
  • Legacy of the Force: Invincible

Fate of the Jedi
(by multiple authors)

  • Fate of the Jedi: Outcast
  • Fate of the Jedi: Omen
  • Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
  • Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
  • Fate of the Jedi: Allies
  • Fate of the Jedi: Vortex
  • Fate of the Jedi: Conviction
  • Fate of the Jedi: Ascension
  • Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse


  • Crucible by Troy Denning

Plug Eye

  • Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Sharad Hett

Dark Horse Comics: Republic:

  • Outlander story arc by Tim Truman

Asharad Hett

Asharad Hett, Dark Horse Comics
Asharad Hett, Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics:Republic:
(by multiple authors)

  • Outlander story arc
  • Emmisaries to Malastare story arc
  • The Hunt for Aurra Sing
  • Battle of Jabiim part 4
  • Enemy Lines
  • Siege of Saleucami

Dark Horse Comics:

  • Obsession

Fate of the Jedi:

  • Apocalypse


  • The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi
Spoiler for Dark Horse Comics, Legacy
Asharad Hett becomes Darth Krayt.

Featured in these stories:

Dark Horse Comics: Legacy:

  • Broken
  • Ready to Die
  • The Wrath of the Dragon
  • Claws of the Dragon
  • War