Remote tribe believed to have killed American 'missionary' are 'world's most isolated' people
Reports emerged earlier this week that 27-year-old American John Chau had been slain after embarking on a journey to North Sentinel Island, purportedly to meet the remote tribespeople.
It is believed that Chau intended to preach Christianity to the tribe; a final note to his family before his death reads, "You guys might think I'm crazy in all of this but I think it's worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people ... God, I don't want to die".
Details are still becoming clear in the wake of the 27-year-old's death, but three individuals are thought to have been arrested after allegedly assisting him on his mission to reach the island, which those without permission from officials are prohibited from visiting. As per a statement from law enforcement;
"Police will interrogate [the accused] to investigate various aspects of the case, including the sequence of events, the sea route followed for North Sentinel Island, the location where the victim landed and the place of the incidence, the location where John Allen Chau was last seen.
"Further, the personal diary/journal of Chau will be analysed afresh accordingly. It will also be ascertained whether the victim had taken the help of these fishermen or others to venture to the North Sentinel Island on earlier occasions."
The unfortunate incident has lead to a spike in interest in the North Sentinelese which, if they were aware of it, would surely be the exact antithesis of their desires.
The Sentinelese are protected by Indian law, in order to preserve their way of life, but also to protect them from diseases to which they have no immunity, though the laws also aim to protect would-be visitors of the island - the tribe are famous for violently rejecting visiting outsiders.
Per CNN, first contact was made with the tribe by the British in the 1800s, but it was not a happy meeting: six members were captured. The two captured adults died as a result of illness, though the four children were later returned to the tribe.
In 2004, a member of the tribe famously shot arrows at a helicopter that was aiming to check on the Sentinelese's safety following the devastating Asian tsunami, and Survival International, a non-profit organisation, describes the Sentinelese tribe as "the world's most isolated",
"The British colonial occupation of the Andaman Islands decimated the tribes living there, wiping out thousands of tribespeople, and only a fraction of the original population now survive. So the Sentinelese fear of outsiders is very understandable".
The Sentinelese are thought to have killed Chau after first injuring him a day previously with arrows. Fishermen said he used a canoe to reach the shore, having been transported into nearby waters. He returned on November 16 with injuries from arrows, but travelled back onto the island's shore the following day. This time, he did not return. Authorities say the fishermen reported seeing members of the tribe dragging Chau's body around.
The Sentinelese are one of the last remaining isolated tribes in the world. Survival International says that other tribes live out of reach of the world's influence in India, while there are thought to be around 100 isolated groups left in the Amazon rainforest, whose way of life is threatened by road building and loggers.
Survival International director Stephen Corry believes that the contact with the Sentinelese has the potential to "wipe out the entire tribe",
"This tragedy should never have been allowed to happen. The Indian authorities should have been enforcing the protection of the Sentinelese and their island for the safety of both the tribe, and outsiders.
"Instead, a few months ago the authorities lifted one of the restrictions that had been protecting the Sentinelese tribe’s island from foreign tourists, which sent exactly the wrong message, and may have contributed to this terrible event.
"It’s not impossible that the Sentinelese have just been infected by deadly pathogens to which they have no immunity, with the potential to wipe out the entire tribe."