Isolated Tribe Kills American With Bow and Arrow on Remote Indian Island

NEW DELHI — John Allen Chau appeared to know that what he was about to do was extraordinarily harmful.

Mr. Chau, an American regarded as in his 20s, was floating in a kayak off a distant island within the Andaman Sea. He was about to set foot on one of the vital sealed-off components of India, an island inhabited by a small, enigmatic and extremely remoted tribe whose members have killed outsiders for merely stepping on their shore.

Fishermen warned him to not go. Few outsiders had ever been there. And Indian authorities laws clearly prohibited any interplay with folks on the island, known as North Sentinel.

But Mr. Chau pushed forward, setting off in his kayak, which he had filled with a Bible. After that, it’s a little bit of a thriller what occurred.

But the police say one factor is evident: Mr. Chau didn’t survive.

On Wednesday, the Indian authorities stated that Mr. Chau had been shot with bows and arrows by tribesmen when he obtained on shore and that his physique was nonetheless on the island. Fishermen who helped take Mr. Chau to North Sentinel advised the police that they’d seen tribesmen dragging his physique on the seashore.

It was a “misplaced journey,’’ stated Dependra Pathak, the police chief within the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. “He definitely knew it was off limits.’’

Mr. Pathak stated Mr. Chau, believed to be 26 or 27 and from Washington State, could have been making an attempt to transform the islanders to Christianity. Right earlier than he left in his kayak, Mr. Chau gave the fishermen an extended word in case he didn’t come again. In it, police officers stated, he had written that Jesus had bestowed him with the energy to go to probably the most forbidden locations on Earth.

On Wednesday, in a publish on Mr. Chau’s Instagram account, his household expressed deep unhappiness and stated he was “a beloved son, brother, uncle, and greatest good friend to us. To others he was a Christian missionary, a wilderness EMT, a global soccer coach, and a mountaineer.”

They additionally appeared to carry out some hope that he had survived, saying the report of his demise was unconfirmed. They additionally stated they forgave those that may need been chargeable for his demise.

Family members didn’t reply to telephone messages.

The Andaman and close by Nicobar Islands are lovely, palm-fringed specks ringed by coral within the Indian Ocean. The authorities controls entry very rigorously; of the greater than 500 islands, many areas are off limits.

On Nov. 14, Mr. Chau employed a fishing boat in Port Blair, the principle metropolis within the Andamans, to take him to North Sentinel. He waited till darkness to set off, police officers stated, so he wouldn’t be detected by the authorities.

T. N. Pandit, an anthropologist who visited North Sentinel a number of instances between 1967 and 1991, stated the Sentinelese folks — who formally quantity round 50 and who hunt with spears and arrows customary from scraps of metallic that wash up on their shores — had been extra hostile to outsiders than different indigenous communities residing within the Andamans.

Once, when Mr. Pandit’s expedition provided a pig to the Sentinelese, two members of the tribe walked to the sting of the seashore, “speared it” and buried it within the sand.

During one other encounter, Mr. Pandit was separated from his colleagues and left alone within the water. A younger tribesman on the seashore pulled out a knife and “made a sign as if he was carving out my body.”

“He threatened; I understood,” Mr. Pandit stated. “Contact was different with the Sentinelese,” he added, noting that the Jarawa, one other tribe, “invited us to come ashore and sang songs.”

Being left alone was essential for the Sentinelese, stated Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International, a gaggle that protects the rights of indigenous tribal peoples all over the world.

“This tragedy should never have been allowed to happen,” Mr. Corry stated in a press release, including that the Indian authorities should shield the tribe from “further invaders.”

Gift-giving expeditions to the Sentinelese stopped in 1996. The Indian Navy now enforces a buffer zone to keep people away. In 2006, the Sentinelese killed two fishermen who had accidentally drifted on shore.

According to the fishermen who helped Mr. Chau, they motored for several hours from Port Blair to North Sentinel. Mr. Chau waited until the next morning, at daybreak, to try to get ashore.

He put his kayak in the water less than half a mile out and paddled toward the island.

The fishermen said that tribesmen had shot arrows at him and that he had retreated. He apparently tried several more times to reach the island over the next two days, the police say, offering gifts such as a small soccer ball, fishing line and scissors. But on the morning of Nov. 17, the fishermen said they saw the islanders with his body.

The seven people who helped Mr. Chau reach the island have been arrested and charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and with violating rules protecting aboriginal tribes.

In the Instagram post, the family asked for the release of the seven and said he had “ventured out on his own free will.”

Another case has been registered against “unknown persons” for killing Mr. Chau. But in the past, the authorities have said that it is virtually impossible to prosecute members of the protected tribes because of the area’s inaccessibility and the Indian government’s decision not to interfere in their lives.

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