American Who Allegedly Wanted To Convert Isolated Indigenous Tribe To Christianity Killed By Arrows

By Sharelle Burt


A tourist was shot by arrows and killed while on a fishing trip on the Andaman islands, one of the world’s most isolated regions.


John Chau took a boat ride with local fishermen before venturing off in a canoe to North Sentinel Island. The indigenous people who live there are completely cut off from society, making the visit a bad idea for the American tourist. As soon as he set foot on the island, Chau was struck by numerous arrows. Protected under Indian law, it is illegal to make contact with tribes living off the coast of the Indian Ocean as they preserve their indigenous way of life, protecting them against disease.


Chau was a Christian missionary who made several attempts to the island in hopes of converting the Sentinelese tribe. This was the only trip where he actually made it on the island. “He tried to reach the Sentinel island on November 14 but could not make it,” a source said. “Two days later he went well prepared. He left the dingy midway and took a canoe all by himself to the island.”


The local fishermen who allegedly helped Chau get to the island were arrested. Both Andaman and Nicobar Police have filed a murder case and another complaint has been filed in Chennai by the U.S. consulate on behalf of Chau’s mother.  “We are aware of reports concerning a U.S. citizen in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” said a spokesperson from the U.S. consulate. “The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad are one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Department of State.”


Superintendent of Police in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Criminal Investigation Department Deepak Yadav said that authorities are still trying to recover Chau’s body, working with some fishermen to reach the North Sentinel Island. The North Sentinel island is out of bounds even to the military to protect the inhabitants, who number only about 150, from disease.

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Sharelle Burt

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