Anthropologists: Contact, Recovery Poses Threats to Island Tribe’s Survival

A 1974 photo includes a Sentinelese tribesman on the reclusive island where a young missionary was killed weeks ago. Similar tribes that interacted with outsiders fell to listlessness, alcoholism and exploitation from “human safaris” through one island's traditional territory. Demographic and cultural collapse is another result from programs to deal with repeated outbreaks of deadly diseases. (National Geographic Society photo outtake)

National Geographic – The violent death of an American missionary on a remote island in the Indian Ocean in mid-November raises new and urgent questions about the survival of uncontacted and isolated tribes and their right to remain free from interference from the outside world.

John Allen Chau, 26, a self-described “adventurer” from Vancouver, Washington, sought to convert a reclusive tribe to Christianity, trespassing on North Sentinel Island to do so. The coral-fringed island, about the size of Manhattan and strictly off-limits to outsiders, harbors one of the planet’s most isolated hunter-gatherer societies, known as the Sentinelese.

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