American Man Killed by Arrows Shot by Endangered Tribe in India: Authorities

Playing Family of American Killed by Remote Tribe Is Trying to Recover His Body

An American man on an adventure trip in India was shot to death with arrows fired by an indigenous endangered tribe known to thwart all contact with outsiders, authorities said. 

John Allen Chau, 26, had kayaked to the remote North Sentinel Island after paying seven local fisherman to ferry him to the heavily protected area, according to police on India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

His body has yet to be recovered.

The fishermen have been arrested for helping Chau reach the island, where the Sentinelese live in isolation and are known to attack anyone who comes near them. The Indian government restricts visitors the remote island. The men were charged with endangering Chau's life by taking him to the prohibited area, police said. 

Chau reportedly paid the fisherman $325 to illegally take him to waters just off the island on Nov. 15. From there, police said, he boarded a kayak and paddled to shore, bearing gifts of a football and fish. He interacted with some of the tribe people, but they became angry and fired an arrow at him, hitting a book he was carrying, authorities said.

Chau made his way back to the boat and spent the night writing out what happened. He gave the pages to the fishermen the next day and again set off for North Sentinel Island,  according to police. What happened afterward is not known.

On Nov. 17, the fishermen watched from afar as Chau's body was dragged onto the shore by members of the tribe. The men left for Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they told a friend of Chau's what had happened. The friend notified Chau's family.

On The Outbound Collective, Chau had posted about his overseas adventures, saying he loved "to explore, so whether it's trekking through dense old growth forests near the Chilliwack River (on the U.S. border with Canada), finding a rumored waterfall in the jungles of the Andamans, or just wandering around a city to get a feel for the vibes, I'm an explorer at heart."

The travel and explorer blog also posted about his death.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of John Chau's recent death. John was an active contributor to our community of adventure travelers, sharing many wonderful adventures and photos from around the world. He was always kind and energetic, and he will be truly missed," the post said.

"We had no prior knowledge of John’s intention to visit North Sentinel island and do not condone visiting prohibited areas or breaking local laws. Our hearts go out to his family and everyone affected by this tragic event," the statement concluded.

The Sentinelese are believed to number only about 39 and have never been exposed to modern diseases or technology. The Indian government has made it illegal to upload video of them and heavily restrict the island in an effort to preserve the indigenous group.

Ever so often, images do manage to make their way onto social media or into news accounts. In 2004, after a horrific tsunami ravaged southern India, Indonesia and Thailand, aid helicopters flew low over North Sentinel to see if the tribe was in danger. The aircraft were met with a hail of arrows, which aid workers took as a positive sign the people were safe.

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