Dark Reason Native Tribe Who Killed American Preacher Really Hate Outsiders

John Chau@johnachau/Instagram

John Allen Chau, an American missionary, was killed by Sentinelese tribespeople in the Andamans for trespassing on their remote island this month.

The 27-year-old was allegedly hoping to convert the isolationist Sentinelese tribe, the population of which numbers fewer than 150 people, when he began his illegal journey to North Sentinel Island with the aid of local fisherman who Chau paid to help.

According to Indian police reports, the seven fisherman witnessed the islanders shoot arrows at Chau as he breached the island, which is protected by law.

The fatality has led to some speculation over the nature of the Sentinelese tribespeople and their wariness and hatred of outsiders.

One Twitter thread addresses a concerning narrative which suggests they’re ‘probably so aggressive’ because of Maurice Vidal Portman, a Commander who had contact with the island in the 1880s, when India was still under British Colonial rule.

Portman was assigned by the English Royal Navy to ‘administer and pacify’ the group of Andaman Islands including North Sentinel, ‘a job he pursued from 1880-1900 with the full measure of his own perversity’, according to the amateur historian.

The thread goes onto claim Commander Portman was ‘erotically obsessed with the Andamanese’.

The tweeter, citing Portman’s own writings, believes the Commander ‘indulged his passion for photography by kidnapping members of various tribes and posing them in mock-Greek homoerotic compositions’.

It is unclear whether Portman was confusing another local tribespeople, the Jawara, with Sentinelese tribespeople.

Commander Portman is also said to have ‘measured and cataloged every inch of his prisoners’ bodies, with an obsessive focus on genitals’.

An extract from criticism of his writing is included to substantiate the claim:

An 2000 article in the American Scholar described how Portman, made his way to North Sentinel island with an armed contingent, abducted an an old couple and four children, and sailed to Port Blair.

The adults reportedly fell ill and died. It is thought the islanders must be protected for society beyond their island boundaries as they may not have built up immunity to certain common diseases.

The children were returned to the island ‘with quantities of presents’.

Addressing the Royal Geographic Society, Portman said:

Their association with outsiders has bought them nothing but harm, and it is a matter of great regret to me that such a pleasant race are so rapidly becoming extinct.

All the while, Portman’s kidnapping of islanders, the amateur historian says, may have been handed down through word of mouth – in the language only understood to the Sentinelese tribespeople – and influenced their subsequent interactions with outsiders.

In the 60s and 70s, once the abominations of Colonial rule were over, the Indian government tried to make contact with the islanders once more but were met with understandable hostility.

Likewise, when the Sentinelese tribespeople were met with a wrecked cargo ship, the Primrose, in 1981, the sailors were not welcomed fondly. When the crew spotted the tribe on the shore, they radioed for help and were evacuated.

Although anthropologists were able to make peaceful contact in the 90s, more recently, two fishermen were killed in 2006 when their boat drifted onto the shores of North Sentinel by accident.

In a statement addressing the recent killing of Chau, Survival International said:

This tragedy should never have been allowed to happen. The Indian authorities should have been enforcing the protection of the Sentinelese and their island for the safety of both the tribe, and outsiders.

Instead, a few months ago the authorities lifted one of the restrictions that had been protecting the Sentinelese tribe’s island from foreign tourists, which sent exactly the wrong message, and may have contributed to this terrible event.

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.

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

They added this ‘tragedy’ should be ‘a wake up call’ to the Indian authorities to properly protect the island from ‘further invaders’.

The seven fisherman who took Chau to the island have been arrested by local authorities. They have also been charged with his murder, as the tribespeople cannot be charged for the death because contact with them is strictly prohibited, in order to protect their way of life.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via stories@unilad.co.uk