Recently a 27 year old American man’s life was taken by an Indian tribe, not a Native American tribe but one from India that is one of the most isolated and defensive native tribes on the planet, when he approached their remote island to try and convert them to Christianity.
John Allen Chau is said to have paid fisherman in the area to transport him to North Sentinel Island, the island notorious for its inhabitants who were never “contacted” or “colonized” in history, who attack and/or kill anybody who dares approach.
It was inevitable that this exact event would happen, because the Internet put a spotlight on North Sentinel Island in the past few years, which is located in the Andaman Islands off India’s coast.
Converting The World’s Most Isolated Tribe
A swashbuckling American preacher outlined his bizarre plan to convert the world’s most isolated tribe to Christianity in a series of handwritten notes made public by his family.
John Allen Chau, 26, was killed in a hail of arrows and buried in the sand shortly after setting foot on India’s North Sentinel Island, which is part of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.
The region is home to five Stone Age tribes — believed to be the last in existence — who live completely cut off from the rest of the world and are protected by the Indian government.
The Sentinelese are the most reclusive of the cluster and have a fearsome reputation for driving away uninvited guests — whether they arrive by boat or fly overhead — with spears and bow and arrows.
Mr Chau made multiple unsolicited trips to the community over the past three years as he formulated a deluded plan to “establish the kingdom of Jesus” on the island.
Sources from within his missionary circle told AP that Mr Chau interacted with some of the tribesmen, who survive by hunting, fishing and gathering plants, on a handful of occasions.
He appears to have been tolerated until his penultimate journey, when locals started losing patience.
On November 15, the day before his murder, Mr Chau offered a group of local fishermen money to ferry him to the island.
Once ashore, he tried to engage islanders but they became angry and fired an arrow at him, according to AP.
In an incredible stroke of luck, it struck a book Mr Chau was carrying, which an acquaintance said was a Bible.
Perhaps interpreting it as a divine intervention — one that may have saved his life in that moment — the American retreated and swam back to the boatful of fishermen anchored a safe distance from shore.
That night, he wrote about his adventures in his journal and left the notes with the fishermen for safekeeping.
A source with access to the journal told Indian digital outlet The News Minute that Mr Chau described having brought the Sentinelese gifts including scissors, safety pins, fish and a football.
He was confused by the mixed messages he believed the tribe was sending out, complaining that while some members were good to him, others were extremely hostile.
“I have been so nice to them. Why are they so angry and so aggressive?” Mr Chau had written, the source said.
In a another note, Mr Chau had declared that he was “doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island … Do not blame the natives if I am killed”.
Fear of impending death, however, was not enough to keep him away.
John Chau returned the very next day.
As usual, the fishermen brought him as close to the island as they dared and the American paddled to shore in a canoe, AFP said, citing an official police source.
Exactly what happened next is unclear but the fishermen have told police Mr Chau was set upon from the moment his feet touched the sand.
“He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking,” the source said.
“The fishermen saw the (tribesmen) tying a rope around his neck and dragging his body.
“They were scared and fled but returned next morning to find his body on the sea shore.”
The seven fisherman remain in custody following their arrest for helping Mr Chau reach North Sentinel Island.
Indian media said the men told a preacher in the main town of the Andamans, Port Blair, about the incident and the preacher contacted Mr Chau’s family in the United States.
Authorities have yet to retrieve the victim’s body and believe he may have been buried in the sand.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands police director-general Dependra Pathak said officials were working with anthropologists to recover his remains.
Mr Pathak said an Indian Coast Guard vessel with police and experts on the tribe had gone to scout the island and work out how to bring the American home.
Meanwhile, “a murder case has been registered against unknown persons,” he said.
Mr Chau’s family urged authorities not to prosecute the fishermen or any North Sentinel Island tribe members found to have been involved in his death.
“We recently learned from an unconfirmed report that John Allen Chau was reported killed in India while reaching out to members of the Sentinelese Tribe in the Andaman Islands,” they said in a post on his Instagram page.
The family described him as a “beloved son, brother and uncle” who worse many other hats including Christian missionary, wilderness emergency medical technician, soccer coach and mountaineer.
“He loved God, life, helping those in need and had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people,” the family said. “We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death. We also ask for the release of those friends he had in the Andaman Islands.”
Mr Chau’s social media posts identify him as an adventurer and explorer who got his “inspiration for life from Jesus”.
A fellow traveller recently asked him what his top destination was and he replied: “Going back to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India.”
Chau also said in the blog: “I definitely get my inspiration for life from Jesus.”