American Missionary John Allen Chau was reportedly killed by inhabitants of Sentinel Island, whose existence dates back to the Stone Age. Chau visited the forbidden island multiple times between 2015 and 2018. His most recent visit before Thanksgiving turned fatal when he was allegedly attacked by tribesmen wielding bows and arrows.

Recovery of remains elusive

Police had a “standoff with the natives” on November 24, according to The Telegraph (UK). Progress in recovering Chau’s body proved elusive. The Indian police could only approach the island and, from a distance, use binoculars to observe the inhabitants, who stared down the officers in a boat that belongs to a marine unit, News Corp Australia reported.

The recovery efforts pose risks to the officers, as well as to the Sentinelese people. The tribe’s immune system could be compromised by other non-islanders. As well, the officers could be attacked in the same manner as John Chau was reportedly killed.

Officers retreated to avoid confrontation

Dependra Pathak, Director General of Police, described looking at the tribesmen, who “stared” at the officers. The officers avoided confrontation, deciding to retreat to safety. Police have not confirmed that Chau was killed, however, since they do not have his body.

Fishermen are the source of the story.

The seven fishermen who allegedly assisted Chau in making his way onto the island, more than once, accepted bribes for taking him nearby. Fearing for their own lives, they towed a kayak near the island, which Chau used to paddle himself inland. After he made it ashore, according to the fishermen, the tribesmen took aim with their bows and arrows. Chau was reportedly buried in the sand.

One-man mission to convert tribesman was deadly

Chau ignored the Indian government’s Travel ban affecting the island.

He was on a one-man mission to convert the Sentinelese to Christianity, according to numerous news agencies in the days since his death. Police have done their utmost to avoid endangering the island’s inhabitants.

Expert say leave islanders alone

Anthropologists have warned that even a common cold or flu could wipe out the entire population of the tribe, according to Global News (Canada). Authorities hope to recover Chau’s remains “without confronting the tribe,” Global News noted.

While often it is difficult to find multiple sources who agree on a given subject, the topic of recovering Chau’s body appears to be shaping a consensus among experts.

The resounding advice is to just leave the tribe alone since no one really knows much of anything about the people, their culture, and their method of communication, according to Global News. Disrupting them could actually motivate the tribesmen to “become more aggressive,” anthropologist Anup Kapoor, of New Delhi, stated.

Sentinelese ‘protecting what is theirs’

In the 1970s, one anthropologist named T.N. Pandit, now 83, frequently went to Sentinelese Island. He even “befriended some of the tribesmen,” Global News relayed. When Pandit traveled to the island, however, so did other “scholars and officials.”

The tribesmen, Pandit explained, have protected status according to Indian statutes. Attempting to prosecute any of the tribesmen for the death of Chau would be pointless, he added.

The laws that would seek to prosecute them are “not their laws,” Global News pointed out. Pandit said, “They were protecting what is theirs.”

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