American man killed on North Sentinel Island

Dakota Tebaldi

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#1
There's a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, under the province of the country of India, called the Andaman Islands. There are several native tribes there, and special permission from the Indian government is needed to visit the islands and interact with them, because some of the tribes are relatively isolated and you have all the risks inherent in interactions with rarely-contacted peoples; i.e. disease, cultural misunderstandings, and so forth. This permission is difficult but not impossible to obtain if you've got a legit reason for visiting.

Except for one tribe, on one particular island in the Andamans. That island is called North Sentinel Island, and there is a tribe on it called the Sentinelese. Even the neighboring tribes know very little about this island and its resident tribe, except that you Do Not Go There. The government will not allow anyone to visit that island under any circumstances whatsoever. The reason is because the tribe will murder your face if you go there. It's a simple fact of life - the sky is blue, the grass is green, and the Sentinelese will murder your face. With the sole exception of a single incident in 1991 - which is of dubious truth simply because it is undocumented and so vastly out of character - the Sentinelese have killed, or actively attacked and tried to kill, every single visiting party they have encountered in recorded history. It doesn't matter how you approach them or what you do. Act friendly, smile, bring gifts. It doesn't matter. "I come in peace!" *face promptly gets murdered*

Naturally, this 27 year old man from Alabama saw some YouTube videos about them and their face-murdering (every single video and documentary ever made about this island makes it emphatically clear that the natives like killing visitors without exception) and decided that all the Sentinelese really need is Jesus. So, he traveled to India, somehow bribed or convinced some fishermen to take him to North Sentinel Island - which as I pointed out is highly illegal. Upon landing, he was immediately murdered in the face, right there on the beach. Then the islanders tried a rope around his neck and dragged his body around for a while, maybe for fun. The fishermen (who watched all this from a safe distance) fled, and have all since been arrested because duh.

The man's body is still laying there on the beach, sighted as recently as yesterday. It's probably going to stay there. The bodies of two fishermen who were killed when they fell asleep and their boat drifted too close to the island in 2006 stayed there, because rescuers couldn't get close enough to retrieve them without being attacked.

To highlight how kill-happy this tribe is, consider the anecdote related in the article, of a helicopter sent after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to assess the state of the island and see if the tribe survived. As the helicopter hovered over a small clearing, some Sentinelese emerged from the trees and began trying to murder the helicopter in the face with arrows, and the pilots were like "yep they're fine" and noped the heck out. Understand, this was the very first time any Sentinelese had ever seen a helicopter, ever. They had NO idea what this loud, bizarre flying object was. They had NO idea there were people inside it. They did not give a single f*** what it was, they just knew it wasn't from 'round here, so it had to be murdered.
 

Shiloh Lyric

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#2
Yep, they are not a friendly bunch. And apparently, no curiosity about anyone or anything outside of their community.

I don't know why this guy thought he would be the one to change that. Just let them be...they've survived this long without us, and they'll continue to survive without us.
 

Cristiano

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#3
Yep, they are not a friendly bunch. And apparently, no curiosity about anyone or anything outside of their community.

I don't know why this guy thought he would be the one to change that. Just let them be...they've survived this long without us, and they'll continue to survive without us.
Probably not for long. I saw something that said their estimated numbers have dropped to around 40 left.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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#4
Probably not for long. I saw something that said their estimated numbers have dropped to around 40 left.
Yeah they are probably doomed - their isolationism may have doomed them long ago and they're basically dying a slow-motion death all this time. Modern-day estimates of the minimum viable human population, mostly as thought experiments around space colonization, put the number at around 160 - some a little lower, some much higher, and that's assuming strict best-population engineering practices. Smaller island populations are known to have survived, but always with the benefit of trade and communication with others, and occasional new genes from outsiders who come to stay. These guys' position is precarious to say the least.
 

Soen Eber

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#5
The only questions left are when, who gets to send the first anthropology and archaeological teams, and did they worship Cthulhu.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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#6
According to the article, their xenophobia has good historical reason:
[Survival International's] international director, Stephen Corry, called the incident a "tragedy" that "should never have been allowed to happen".

"The Sentinelese have shown again and again that they want to be left alone, and their wishes should be respected," he said.

"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."
Furthermore, the reason it's illegal to visit the island is to protect the islanders, not the visitors, since their isolation means the Sentinelese lack immunity to many common diseases.
The two endangered aboriginal Andaman tribes - the Jarawa and the Sentinelese - are hunter-gatherers, and contact with the outside world would put them at risk of contracting disease.

The Sentinelese are particularly vulnerable: their complete isolation means they are likely to have no immunity to even common illnesses such as flu and measles.

"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," said Mr Corry.
 
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Ellie

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#7
Probably not just or even their isolation is what doomed this tribe, but contact with explorers carrying diseases they have no immunity to? Not the first time they've had this come up.
I read that long ago explorers kidnapped a family and all but two children died of sicknesss they contracted from their captors, so they took them back, which eventually hugely reduced the population.
The Sentinelese are particularly vulnerable: their complete isolation means they are likely to have no immunity to even common illnesses such as flu and measles.
"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," said Mr Corry.
And I'm strongly allergic to proselytizing evangelical christians from long experience, hell in fact any kind of what I view as a mania to share a religion or MLM.

ETA A Christian missionary website called the Joshua Project lists the Sentinelese as "0.00% Christian" and urges followers to "Pray that the Indian Government will allow Christians to earn the trust of the Sentinelese people, and that they will be permitted to live among them."
 
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#9
The Google Maps reviews of North Sentinal Island are amusing:

Great first trip of my journey into finding myself and who I really am. I discovered that having arrows planted in my cheek, legs and torso really makes you appreciate when you are painless, what a great experience, thanks to that great group of people that unfortunately i couldn't communicate with but hey thanks for the scars !
 

Cristiano

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#10
This ridiculous notion that people have to be "saved" and converted to Christianity is fucking madness. No sympathy for this guy. He didn't deserve to die, but he knew the risks and invaded this tribe, so it is a direct consequence of his actions. I don't blame the tribe for defending itself.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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#11
According to the article, their xenophobia has good historical reason:
I would agree in theory, but it's hard to in this case just because the other Andaman tribes, which had much more contact with the colonialists and thus were more badly affected by diseases and exploitation, have not grown to hate outsiders; and generally scientists, doctors, and others are allowed to visit with them today. And do so peacefully.

I think the Sentinelese are especially hostile; I think they've always been that way and didn't become so just because of the British and whatever diseases their visit brought. There's a reason the British were able to occupy the other Andaman islands, but did not attempt to settle or control North Sentinel after that initial contact. And although the accounts are strangely quiet about the circumstances surrounding their capture, I think there's also bound to be a reason the British explorers' first "guests" were specifically a handful of very old people and young children, and I think that reason is likely because the able-bodied adults attacked and fought the landers (and lost).
 

Shiloh Lyric

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#12
Probably not for long. I saw something that said their estimated numbers have dropped to around 40 left.
I thought I had seen 100, but that was some time ago. And, honestly, I'm not sure how recently the count had even been.

It makes sense. With such a small population, I would think eventually they'd be too closely related to continue reproducing.

Climate change will also continue to affect them.

They're a fascinating subject, though.
 

Free

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#13
Are they...

 

Dakota Tebaldi

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#14
Apparently not - at least, they don't ever seem to eat the visitors they face-murder.

I think it's generally understood that they fish, but I don't think anyone has the slightest clue what else they eat. One time a documentary crew left some gifts on the beach and then waited in a boat just off-shore to watch the reaction (the director took an arrow in the thigh, lol - good shot). One of the gifts was a live pig. The tribesmen just murdered its face and buried it in the sand.

In fact except for like a pot or something, I think I remember reading that the tribesmen buried ALL of the gifts - after pretending to defecate on them, while the documentary crew watched. lol.
 
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#15
I thought I had seen 100, but that was some time ago. And, honestly, I'm not sure how recently the count had even been.

It makes sense. With such a small population, I would think eventually they'd be too closely related to continue reproducing.

Climate change will also continue to affect them.

They're a fascinating subject, though.
Reading up on North Sentinel Island raises more questions. Did the Chola Dynasty and Maratha Empire also have hostile encounters? How long have the people been isolated? AFAIK their language is totally unknown.
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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It gets worse. Apparently he went to the island twice in as many days. The first time he went, he narrowly survived an attack and swam back to the fishermen, only to later recommit himself while reflecting in his journal, asking the fishermen to take him back again the next day. He did not survive the second attempt.
 

Innula Zenovka

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#18
More here: Family forgive tribe who killed American.

I hesitate to criticise his family at a time like this, but I think the statement issued by his family,
We forgive those reportedly responsible for their deaths. We also ask for the release of those friends he had in the Andaman Islands. He ventured out of his own free will and his local contacts need not be persecuted for his actions.
is dreadful.

It's illegal to land on the island or to have any contact with the islanders because of the risk of their being exposed to pathogens against which they have no immunity.

By his actions, John Chau may well have been responsible for genocide, quite literally. Of course those responsible for helping him, whether for money, misplaced idealism or both, should face the consequences of their actions.
 

Beebo Brink

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By his actions, John Chau may well have been responsible for genocide, quite literally. Of course those responsible for helping him, whether for money, misplaced idealism or both, should face the consequences of their actions.
This. No sympathy for his death, as he was apparently unfazed at the prospect of committing genocide. It was all about him, about being some Christian hero, not in the least about the people he said he wanted to "save."

Death seems like a perfectly appropriate sentence for someone so insufferably righteous that they would destroy an entire tribe to satisfy their religious zealotry.
 
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#20
From a CNN article:

But those who knew the American Christian missionary are calling him a martyr for the Christian faith.
"I see him as a martyr," Ramsey, 22, said in an interview on Wednesday from Cologne, Germany. "He was someone who died out of love for these people to bring the good news of Jesus Christ."
I lack the words to properly and fully express the stupidity of these people.