Authorities Struggle To Retrieve Body Of American Missionary Killed By Isolated Tribe

John Allen Chau attempted to make contact with a tribe that had separated themselves from modern society.

Shadow of someone shooting an arrow in front of a sunset
PaulSBarlow / Pixabay

John Allen Chau attempted to make contact with a tribe that had separated themselves from modern society.

Officials in India are contemplating how to obtain the body of an American tourist who was killed by a tribe of North Sentinel islanders, ABC News is reporting. As previously reported in the Inquisitr, missionary John Allen Chau traveled to a forbidden area last week in hopes of converting an isolated tribe to Christianity. The Sentinelese tribe has rejected modern society for thousands of years, and laws have been put in place over time forbidding outsiders from intruding on their lifestyle. These rules were not only instilled to help preserve the tribe’s culture but also protect them from illnesses that the people have not developed an immunity to since they’ve been living separately from society. Now, Indian authorities are struggling to determine how to recover Chau’s body safely.

“It’s a difficult proposition,” said Dependera Pathak, director-general of police on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. “We have to see what is possible, taking utmost care of the sensitivity of the group and the legal requirements.”

Officials are brainstorming with anthropologists, tribal welfare experts, and scholars to come up with a way to retrieve Chau, who is presumed to have been killed with arrows. While an official cause of death will not be determined until authorities gain possession of the remains, fishermen witnessed members of the tribe burying Chau’s body. Chau had allegedly paid the fishermen to take him to the island, and when the men realized he had been killed, they immediately returned to Port Blair, the capital of the island, to inform his friend.

According to a letter written by Chau to his family, the tourist was aware of the risks he was taking but felt the trip was worth it. He asked for his family not to be upset with him if he was killed. He also reportedly brought gifts to give to the Sentinelese people, such as a football and fish. Chau allegedly had made contact with the tribe the day before but swam away after they shot an arrow at him. Still, he did not give up on his mission and insisted on returning the next day. Seven people have been arrested for aiding Chau on his adventure and helping him reach the tribe. Chau’s family is calling for the people to be released.

“He ventured out on his own free will and his local contacts need not be persecuted for his own actions,” the family said. The family also stated they forgive the tribal members for killing Chau.