Who Are The Tribe That Killed An American Missionary?

Saul Bowman
November 26, 2018

Veteran anthropologist TN Pandit, who visited North Sentinel 50 years ago, believes there should be no rush to make contact with the Sentinelese. Chau's letters recall that on first contact, "two armed Sentinelese came rushing out yelling".

A team from the USA consulate in Chennai has landed in Port Blair and is talking to authorities there on how to retrieve the body of John Allen Chau - who was allegedly killed by an isolated tribe in the Andamans - a task that has never been achieved before.

John Allen Chau, the American who was killed by an endangered tribe in Andaman's North Sentinel Islands, was described by western media reports as a Christian missionary who "loved to explore", but questions are now being raised over his visit to the remote island.

The commission said it had advised the government to be "ultra-sensitive to the vulnerability of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribes Groups (PVTGs) of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands".

The family of a United States man reportedly killed by arrows fired by members of an endangered tribe in India's Andaman and Nicobar islands has said they forgive those who killed him.

"In the morning of November 17, they saw a dead person being buried at the shore which from the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances appeared to be the body of Chau", the release said clearly defining the circumstances leading to Chau's death, nearly five days after the incident.

After the fishermen realised Chau had been killed, 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.

"It was a case of misdirected adventure", he added. "He invited that aggression".

They said "words can not express" the sadness they are experiencing, adding: "We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death".

On his first day on the island, Chau interacted with some tribesmen until they grew angry and shot an arrow at him.

The fishermen stayed back but Chau ventured on to the island. Alongside pictures taken in the jungle, he wrote: 'Adventure awaits. He returned to North Sentinel the next day, November 16.

Police officer Vijay Singh says seven fishermen have been arrested for facilitating the American's visit to North Sentinel Island, where the killing apparently occurred.

"He was attacked by arrows but he continued walking".


"He was a beloved son, brother, uncle and best friend to us".

Chau hired a fishing dinghy and, aided by the fishermen, reached the vicinity of the island on November 16, before transferring to a canoe, the official said. North Sentinel is part of the Andaman Islands and sits at the intersection of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

Chau had offered local fishermen money to take him to the island, the source said.

Police surveyed the island by air on November 20, and a team of police and forest department officials used a coast guard boat to travel there on November 21. Another trip was planned Thursday.

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

The tribe is known to be hostile to outsiders, having reportedly killed two fishermen whose boat drifted onto the island in 2006, and to have thrown spears at a helicopter checking for damage after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

India recently changed some of its rules on visiting isolated regions in the Andamans.

Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, which campaigns on behalf of indigenous people, said people like the Sentinelese were put in danger by anyone who visits them from the outside world. Mr Chau had written, the source said.

An American missionary trying to meet and convert one of the most isolated hunter-and-gatherer tribes in the world offered them fish and other small gifts before the tribesmen killed him and buried his body on the beach, journals and emails show.

Mr Chau was a volunteer at a soccer development and social leadership program that Mr Prince founded, Ubuntu Football Academy.

"Don't blame them or God if I am killed", he wrote.

Another said Chau was "doing this to establish the kingdom of Jesus on the island".

Chau graduated from Oral Roberts University, where he got involved with Covenant Journey, the Christian ministry that takes college students on immersion trips to Israel, according to Staver, who is the group's chairman.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER