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In this October 2018 photo, American adventurer John Allen Chau, right, stands for a photograph with Founder of Ubuntu Football Academy Casey Prince, 39, in Cape Town, South Africa, days before he left for in a remote Indian island of North Sentinel Island, where he was killed. Chau, who kayaked to the remote island populated by a tribe known for shooting at outsiders with bows and arrows, has been killed, police said Wednesday, Nov. 21. Officials said they were working with anthropologists to recover the body. (AP Photo/Sarah Prince)

US Missionary Killed by "Worlds Most Isolated Tribe"


By Alastair Jamieson, Elisha Fieldstadt and Associated Press

An American adventurer who kayaked to a remote Indian island populated by a tribe known for shooting at outsiders with bows and arrows has been killed, police said Wednesday. Officials said they were working with anthropologists to recover the body.

John Allen Chau, 26, was identified as the victim by Jeff King, president of Washington, D.C.-based non-profit International Christian Concern. Chau was not a part of the non-profit, but he said the missionary was traveling in a group of other missionaries and adventurers.[John Chau]
John Chau in undated photo.via Facebook

"My understanding is that he was there to bring Christianity to this remote tribal group," said King. "If you’re a believer, your worldview is that non-believers are lost and that their only hope is Jesus."

Police officer Vijay Singh said the killing apparently occurred Saturday on North Sentinel Island, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Sentinelese people are resistant to outsiders and often attack anyone who comes near, and visits to the island are heavily restricted by the government.

King said that Chau likely had read up on the tribespeople and how they react to outsiders, but "guys understand the risks and there are willing to put their lives at risk."

Dependera Pathak, director-general of police on India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said seven fishermen have been arrested for helping the American reach North Sentinel Island.

Chau was apparently shot and killed by arrows, but the cause of death can't be confirmed until his body is recovered, Pathak told The Associated Press.

Chau arrived in the area on Oct. 16 and stayed in a hotel while he prepared to travel to the island. It was not his first time in the region: he had visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2015 and 2016, Pathak said. North Sentinel is in the Andaman Islands at the intersection of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

Chau organized his visit to the island through a friend who hired seven fishermen for $325 to take him there on a boat, which also towed his kayak, Pathak said.[Sentinel tribal man]
A Sentinel tribal man aims his bow at an Indian Coast Guard helicopter as it surveyed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2004.Indian Coast Guard via AP file

The American went ashore in his kayak on Nov. 15 and sent the boat with the fishermen out to sea to avoid detection, Pathak said. He interacted with some of the tribespeople, offering gifts such as a football and fish. But the tribespeople became angry and shot an arrow at him, hitting a book he was carrying, Pathak said.

After his kayak was damaged, Chau swam back to the fishermen's boat, which was waiting at a prearranged location. He spent the night writing about his experiences on pages that he then gave the fishermen, Pathak said. He set out again to meet the tribespeople on Nov. 16.

What happened then isn't known. But on the morning of the following day, the waiting fishermen watched from a distance as the tribesmen dragged Chau's body. They left for Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they broke the news to Chau's friend, who in turn notified his family, Pathak said.

Police charged the seven fishermen with endangering the life of the American by taking him to a prohibited area.[The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.]
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are located at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.Google Maps

Chau had lived in Oklahoma, where he attended Oral Roberts University, and in southwestern Washington state, where he attended Vancouver Christian High School. Phone messages left with some of his relatives were not immediately returned Wednesday.


















By Alastair Jamieson, Elisha Fieldstadt and Associated Press

An American adventurer who kayaked to a remote Indian island populated by a tribe known for shooting at outsiders with bows and arrows has been killed, police said Wednesday. Officials said they were working with anthropologists to recover the body.

John Allen Chau, 26, was identified as the victim by Jeff King, president of Washington, D.C.-based non-profit International Christian Concern. Chau was not a part of the non-profit, but he said the missionary was traveling in a group of other missionaries and adventurers.

"My understanding is that he was there to bring Christianity to this remote tribal group," said King. "If you’re a believer, your worldview is that non-believers are lost and that their only hope is Jesus."

Police officer Vijay Singh said the killing apparently occurred Saturday on North Sentinel Island, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Sentinelese people are resistant to outsiders and often attack anyone who comes near, and visits to the island are heavily restricted by the government.

King said that Chau likely had read up on the tribespeople and how they react to outsiders, but "guys understand the risks and there are willing to put their lives at risk."

Dependera Pathak, director-general of police on India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said seven fishermen have been arrested for helping the American reach North Sentinel Island.

Chau was apparently shot and killed by arrows, but the cause of death can't be confirmed until his body is recovered, Pathak told The Associated Press.

Chau arrived in the area on Oct. 16 and stayed in a hotel while he prepared to travel to the island. It was not his first time in the region: he had visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in 2015 and 2016, Pathak said. North Sentinel is in the Andaman Islands at the intersection of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

Chau organized his visit to the island through a friend who hired seven fishermen for $325 to take him there on a boat, which also towed his kayak, Pathak said.

The American went ashore in his kayak on Nov. 15 and sent the boat with the fishermen out to sea to avoid detection, Pathak said. He interacted with some of the tribespeople, offering gifts such as a football and fish. But the tribespeople became angry and shot an arrow at him, hitting a book he was carrying, Pathak said.

After his kayak was damaged, Chau swam back to the fishermen's boat, which was waiting at a prearranged location. He spent the night writing about his experiences on pages that he then gave the fishermen, Pathak said. He set out again to meet the tribespeople on Nov. 16.

What happened then isn't known. But on the morning of the following day, the waiting fishermen watched from a distance as the tribesmen dragged Chau's body. They left for Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they broke the news to Chau's friend, who in turn notified his family, Pathak said.

Police charged the seven fishermen with endangering the life of the American by taking him to a prohibited area.


Chau had lived in Oklahoma, where he attended Oral Roberts University, and in southwestern Washington state, where he attended Vancouver Christian High School. Phone messages left with some of his relatives were not immediately returned Wednesday.


One of Chau's friends, Casey Prince, 39, of Cape Town, South Africa, said he met the adventurer about six years ago, when Chau was a manager on the soccer team at Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. Chau and others on the team traveled to South Africa to volunteer at a soccer development and social leadership program Prince founded, Ubuntu Football Academy.

Since then, Chau had been back to visit Prince and his family or tutor and coach boys in the program about four times. Most recently, he was there from mid-September to mid-October, Prince said.

Prince described him as easy to like, kind, joyful and driven by twin passions: a love of the outdoors and fervent Christianity.

"He was an explorer at heart," Prince said. "He loved creation and being out in it, I think having probably found and connected with God that way, and deeply so."

Prince declined to discuss what Chau had told him about his plans for traveling in India or the islands, saying instead he wanted to focus his comments on who Chau was. But he said Chau, who previously spoke of having been bitten by a rattlesnake, accepted the dangers that came with his adventures.

"If he was taking a risk, he was very aware of it," Prince said.

Kathleen Hosie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Chennai, the capital of India's southern Tamil Nadu state, said she was aware of reports concerning an American in the islands but could not comment further due to privacy considerations.

Survival International, a global advocacy non-profit for tribespeople, described the Sentinelese as an “uncontacted” community of between 50 and 200 people who “vigorously reject all contact with outsiders.”

“This tragedy should never have been allowed to happen. Indian authorities should have been enforcing the protection of the Sentinelese and their island for the safety of both the tribe, and outsiders," said Survival International director Stephen Corry.

"The Sentinelese have shown again and again that they want to be left alone, and their wishes should be respected," Corry said, adding that they could have also been exposed to deadly pathogens that they are not immune to.                    

Alastair Jamieson is a London-based reporter, editor and homepage producer for NBC News.


























































































































































































Authorities struggle to recover missionary's body from mysterious island


















NEW DELHI — Police said they have mapped the area of a remote Indian island where tribespeople were seen burying the body of an American adventurer and Christian missionary after allegedly killing him with arrows this month.

But before they can even attempt to recover the body of 26-year-old John Allen Chau, authorities have to learn from experts “the nuances of the group’s conduct and behavior, particularly in this kind of violent behavior,” said Dependra Pathak, the director-general of police of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where North Sentinel Island is located.

During their visit to the island’s surroundings on Friday, investigators spotted four or five North Sentinel islanders moving in the area from a distance of about 500 meters (1,600 feet) from a boat and studied their behavior for several hours, said Pathak.

“We have more or less identified the site and the area in general,” Pathak said by phone on Saturday.

Indian authorities have been struggling to figure out how to get the remains of Chau, who was killed by North Sentinel islanders who apparently shot him with arrows and then buried his body on the beach.

Friday’s visit was the second boat expedition of the week by a team of police and officials from the forest department, tribal welfare department and coast guard, Pathak said. The officials took two of the seven people arrested for helping Chau get close to the island in an effort to determine his route and the circumstances of his death. The fishermen who had taken Chau to the shore saw the tribespeople dragging and burying his body on the morning of Nov. 17.

Officials typically don’t travel to the North Sentinel area, where people live as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. The only contacts, occasional “gift giving” visits in which bananas and coconuts were passed by small teams of officials and scholars who remained in the surf, were years ago.

Indian ships monitor the waters around the island, trying to ensure outsiders do not go near the Sentinelese, who have repeatedly made clear they want to be left alone.

Chau went to “share the love of Jesus,” said Mary Ho, international executive leader of All Nations. All Nations, a Kansas City, Missouri-based organization, helped train Chau, discussed the risks with him and sent him on the mission, to support him in his “life’s calling,” she added.

“He wanted to have a long-term relationship, and if possible, to be accepted by them and live amongst them,” she said.

When a young boy tried to hit him with an arrow on his first day on the island, Chau swam back to the fishing boat he had arranged to wait for him offshore. The arrow, he wrote, hit a Bible he was carrying.

“Why did a little kid have to shoot me today?” he wrote in his notes, which he left with the fishermen before swimming back the next morning. “His high-pitched voice still lingers in my head.”

Police say Chau knew that the Sentinelese resisted all contact by outsiders, firing arrows and spears at passing helicopters and killing fishermen who drift onto their shore. His notes, which were reported Thursday in Indian newspapers and confirmed by police, make clear he knew he might be killed.

“I DON’T WANT TO DIE,” wrote Chau, who appeared to want to bring Christianity to the islanders. “Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else to continue. No I don’t think so.”

Chau paid fishermen to take him near North Sentinel, using a kayak to paddle to shore and bringing gifts, including a football and fish.

The Indian government lifted restrictions on traveling to the island in August, Ho said. She said she couldn’t comment on why Chau arrived there the way he did, but that he carefully planned it.

All Nations contacted the U.S. Department of State, Ho said. She doesn’t know yet whether it will be possible to recover Chau’s body.

“We are just in grief and in shock about his death,” she said. “At the same time, we consider it a real honor to have worked with him, to have been a part of his journey.”

Scholars know almost nothing about the island, from how many people live there to what language they speak. The Andamans once had other similar groups, long-ago migrants from Africa and Southeast Asia who settled in the island chain, but their numbers have dwindled dramatically over the past century as a result of disease, intermarriage and migration.

Five fishermen, a friend of Chau’s and a local tourist guide have been arrested for helping Chau.

Chau, whose friends described him as a fervent Christian, attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before that he had lived in southwestern Washington state and went to Vancouver Christian High School.

In an Instagram post, his family said it was mourning him as a “beloved son, brother, uncle and best friend to us.” The family also said it forgave his killers.

Authorities say Chau arrived in the area on Oct. 16 and stayed on another island while he prepared to travel to North Sentinel. It was not his first time in the region, as he had visited the Andaman islands in 2015 and 2016.

With help from the friend, Chau paid fishermen $325 to take him there, according to Pathak.

After the fishermen realized Chau had been killed, they left for Port Blair, the capital of the island chain, where they broke the news to Chau’s friend, who notified his family, Pathak said.

• Associated Press writers Tim Sullivan in New Delhi and Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.


ABOUT NORTH SENTINEL ISLAND

Population
The population has been estimated at 15 to 500 individuals, with most estimates between 50 and 200.[14][15] In 2001, the Census of India officially recorded 21 men and 18 women.[16] This survey was conducted from a distance and may not have been accurate.[17] Ten years later, the 2011 Census of India recorded 12 males and 3 females.[18] That too was merely an estimate, described as a "wild guess" by the Times of India.[19]

Though the group managed to survive the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami relatively unscathed, it is unknown how many islanders died as a result and what effect the disaster had on the population.[20][14]Comparative distributions of Andamanese indigenous peoples, pre-18C vs present-day
A map of uncontacted tribes, around the start of the 21st century

Practices
The Sentinelese are hunter-gatherers, likely using bows and arrows to hunt terrestrial wildlife and more rudimentary methods to catch local seafood, such as mud crabs. It has been noted that they prepare their food in a way similar to the Önge people.[21] The Sentinelese are not believed to have evolved their practices beyond those of the Stone Age. Metalworking, agriculture, and even the ability to make fire are unknown to them.[22][23] They do appear to recognise the value of metal, having scavenged it to create tools and weapons, and their acceptance of aluminum cookware left by the National Geographic Society in 1974 is one of the few documented cases of their accepting a gift from outsiders.[14]

As the bodies of the two fishermen killed by the Sentinelese (as described below) were found, it has been suggested that they do not practise cannibalism.[24]

Appearance and genetics
The Sentinelese are considered to be Negrito.[25] They have dark skin and may be shorter in stature than average humans, with one report by Heinrich Harrer placing a man at 1.6 metres (5 ft 3 in) tall, possibly due to insular dwarfism (the so called "Island Effect"), nutrition, or simply genetic heritage.[26] They appear not to wear clothing.[27][28]

Language
The Sentinelese speak their own language, the Sentinelese language. Almost nothing is known about it, and it appears to be a language isolate. Since the islanders do not interact with speakers of other languages, there are no bilingual translators. During an attempt to communicate with islanders in 1980, researchers were able to deduce from words the islanders yelled that their language is likely unrelated to the Önge language spoken by the Onge people, who inhabit the neighboring Little Andaman Island.[29] Additionally, it is not mutually intelligible with the Jarawa language, spoken by the Jarawas.[16] With little new research available for anthropologists to review, the Sentinelese language remains an unclassified language.

Contact

In the 13th Century, explorer Marco Polo described the island's residents as "most violent and cruel generation" and indicated that they were cannibals.[30]

Maurice Vidal Portman (1880)

In 1880, in an effort to establish contact with the Sentinelese, British naval officer Maurice Vidal Portman, who was serving as a colonial administrator to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, led a group of Europeans to North Sentinel Island. Upon the arrival of the armed group, the islanders fled into the treeline. After several days ashore, during which they found abandoned villages and paths, Portman's men captured six individuals, an elderly man and woman and four children.[31]
The man and woman died shortly after or before their arrival in Port Blair, likely from disease, and so Portman attempted to befriend the surviving children by giving them gifts before returning them to North Sentinel Island, in hopes that the children would help village elders realise the British were friendly. The attempt was unsuccessful, likely due to the aggressiveness of Portman's visit and the fact that his efforts resulted in the deaths of two Sentinelese people.[12][32] Additionally, due to differences in culture, the children might not have recognised the gifts as such.

T. N. Pandit (1967–1991)
In 1967, anthropologist T. N. Pandit, in partnership with the Indian government, left gifts on North Sentinel Island's beaches in hopes that friendly contact could be established with the inhabitants, but they did not accept the gifts.[13] Pandit made many more attempts over the years, all futile, and ceased his efforts in 1991.[13]

National Geographic (1974)

In early 1974, a National Geographic film crew went to the island with a team of anthropologists to film a documentary, Man in Search of Man. They were accompanied by armed police. When the motorboat broke through the barrier reefs, the locals emerged from the jungle and fired arrows at the boat. They landed at a safe point on the coast and left gifts in the sand, including a miniature plastic car, some coconuts, a live pig, a doll, and aluminum cookware.[33]
The Sentinelese followed up by launching another round of arrows, one of which struck the documentary director in his thigh. The man who wounded the director withdrew to the shade of a tree and laughed proudly while others speared and then buried the pig and the doll. They left afterward, taking the coconuts and cookware.[14]

The Primrose (1981)
In August 1981, the cargo ship Primrose ran aground in rough seas just off North Sentinel Island, stranding a small crew. After a few days, a reported 50 islanders appeared, threatening the crew. The ship captain broadcast urgent messages indicating that natives were on the verge of attacking the vessel with arrows and spears.[34] Nearly a week later, the ship was evacuated by helicopter.

Indian Government (1990s)
In the mid-1990s, the Indian government set up a state welfare agency to look after the island's tribal groups and began a series of contact expeditions, which continued until 2000, when the programs were abandoned.[14] Numerous expeditions were conducted, with the contact teams typically consisting of anthropologists, medical officers, government guests, and administrators.[14]

The Sentinelese generally did not let the contact teams get near them and so they usually waited until the armed Sentinelese retreated. The teams would then leave gifts on the beach or set them adrift toward the coastline.[14] Some of the expeditions ended in violent encounters.[14] By 1970, India had staked its claim to the island despite limited contact with the islanders.[14] In 1991, the first instance of friendly close contact was reported when the Sentinelese approached a dinghy carrying various gifts without any weapons and collected them.[14]

In the early 1990s, the Sentinelese began allowing boats to approach the shore, sometimes greeting passengers unarmed. But after a few minutes, the Sentinelese would begin to make menacing gestures and to fire arrows without arrowheads. In 1996, the Indian government ended the contact expeditions after a series of hostile encounters resulting in several deaths in a similar program involving the Jarawa people of South and Middle Andaman Islands and because of the danger of introducing diseases.[32]

Deaths of two fishermen (2006)

In January 2006, two Indian fishermen, Sunder Raj and Pandit Tiwari, attempted to illegally harvest crabs off North Sentinel Island's coast, anchoring their boat and spending the night. Their makeshift anchor broke away from their small fishing boat in the middle of the night and, as they slept, they floated within range of the Islanders. The calls of passing fisherman to leave the area went unheard as the two slept. The boat was attacked and the fishermen killed.

Their buried bodies were discovered three days later by an Indian Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter.[14][35] When the helicopter tried to retrieve the bodies, it was attacked with spears and arrows by more than 50 tribesmen who shot arrows to a height of more than 100 feet. The helicopter was able to lure the islanders to another location 1.5 km away, before flying back and gaining enough time to retrieve one of the two bodies before the islanders returned. During a repeat of the previous strategy, the Sentinelese split into two groups and prevented recovery of the second body.[36][37] The mission was then abandoned and the second body was never retrieved.[38]