Bored Panda works better on our iPhone app
Continue in app Continue in browser
BoredPanda Add Post

The Bored Panda iOS app is live! Fight boredom with iPhones and iPads here.

27 Years Ago A Woman Contacted The Tribe That Killed John Chau, And Her Encounter Was Completely Different
332points
User submission
10.9K
259.1K
History3 years ago

27 Years Ago A Woman Contacted The Tribe That Killed John Chau, And Her Encounter Was Completely Different

The world is a mysterious place with so many vibrant and varying cultures. However, in this day and age, when everything is controlled by technology, it is easy to contact anyone from anywhere in the world. With over 7 billion people on this earth, there are still some native tribes that do not support nor understand our modern living ways, and their secluded lives remain untouched. Despite all of this, one human trait remains the same, and it is the need to explore and unravel the unknown. So it only makes sense that humans sometimes do all they can to get in touch with all the uncontacted tribes in the world, just to see how different they are from us.

In 1991 one woman did the impossible by contacting the most isolated tribe in the world – the Sentinelese

Madhumala Chattopadhyay led an extraordinary expedition with one goal – to contact the Sentinelese tribe and reveal what life is like for these most secluded people, who are known to be dangerous and aggressive. In one interview Madhumala later explained “Never ever in my six years of researching along with the tribes of Andamans did any man ever misbehave with me. The tribes might be primitive in their technological achievements, but socially, they are far ahead of us.”

The tribe is located on the Andaman Islands, in the Indian Ocean

They are a part of Andamanese people, which also includes such tribes as the Onge, Shompen, and Jarawa. Even though people live relatively close to each other, their communication with the modern world is drastically different. The Jarawa tribe is known to be one of the most civilized of them all, yet the Sentinelese are considered to be the most dangerous and isolated.

Visiting the Sentinelese island is not only considered dangerous but it is also illegal

Due to various examples of failed friendly contact, the government of India has decided to leave the tribe alone. Now, visiting the North Sentinel island can also be deadly to the tribe since visitors can bring various bacteria, that the tribe members are not immune to.

Recently, the media widely reported the death of a young Christian missionary named John Chau, who tried to enter the premises of the Sentinelese tribe resulting in his tragic death. This horrible event proved once again that the Sentinelese are not here to make friends.

And even though one successful expedition led by Mr. Pandit was already covered by the media, only a few know the incredible achievements of Madhumala Chattopadhyay.

Image credits: Probashionline

Since she was a 12-year-old girl, Madhumala was determined to meet these indigenous people of Sentinel Island. After she finished school at the top of her class, she started studying anthropology at the University of Calcutta. She later explained to her parents that studying anthropology was her ‘passport to the Ongers’, which is one of the Andamanese tribes.

Madhumala is one of a few people who managed to have friendly contact with the Sentinelese

Her secret? Coconuts. The moment her boat reached the territory of the Sentinelese tribe, every person on her team started throwing coconuts, to show that they come in peace. It didn’t take long for the tribe to come closer, and even start picking coconuts out of the water. Soon after, Madhumala threw even more coconuts, and she was quickly able to get into the water with the tribe. To this day it is considered to be one of a few successful contacts with the native tribe. It is believed that the presence of a woman was the key to a successful contact. Madhumala has since revisited the tribe, and this time they were even more enthusiastic, they even climbed into the boat to pick the coconuts themselves.

Madhumala has also visited other Andamanese tribes, her closest contact was with the Jarawa

Image credits: Probashionline

In 1991 she went with another expedition and was the only woman from the outside world ever to visit the Jarawa. To not scare the native tribe, Madhumala first stayed on the boat, but soon after the Jarawa women noticed her, they started yelling “Milale chera” which would translate to “friend come here,” they even did an impromptu dance to show their joy of seeing a woman in the team. After the woman came closer to Madhumala, they started examining her hair and skin. Nobody expected the scientist to do what she did next. To show her support and friendship, Mudhamala embraced one of the tribe’s women, which resulted in a happy reaction from the tribe.

The Jarawa are one of the friendliest tribes, so the woman quickly accepted Madhumala and even let her hold their babies and help them with their chores. The anthropologist was the only person invited inside the tribe’s huts and even shared food with them. Madhumala also became their doctor as she would help the indigenous people with their wounds.

Image credits: Probashionline

Even though Madhumala made major progress in contacting the world’s most isolated and unique tribes, there are only a few people who consider her as one of the best anthropologists of our time. Madhumala currently works in a central government ministry in Delhi, she handles routine government files, and only a few know the true impact she had in the outside world’s contact with the Sentinelese and Jarawa tribes.

If you want to learn more about the Sentinelese, make sure to check out our video about them!

259Kviews

Share on Facebook
Popular on Bored Panda
What do you think ?
Bored Birgit
Community Member
3 years ago

Why can't we just leave them alone? Without curiously exploring them? Bringing our bacteria, our way of living, our religion, whatever. Disturbing their isolation. Eventually bringing the wish for "better" or just other life to them. There are various examples of our influence on old tribes which did not end well. I fear the lately death of the unfortunate missionary will increase the attempt of various "adventurers" trying to get on this island on their own, just for a bit of fame. Please. Leave. Them. Alone.

Bored Birgit
Community Member
3 years ago

And a really good anthropologist should/would know that contact to an indigenous tribe has influence on them, and that leaving them on their own is the very best for them.

Load More Replies...
Daria B
Community Member
3 years ago

The part that mentions how culturally advanced these tribes are because they treat women with respect makes me think that this is only proof that it's unnatural to treat womem like shite for the mere reason of being female. It makes me really curious, though. All of the advanced societies in the world from either continent had (or still have) a point within culture where women are discriminated against, one way or another. Even without direct influences from abroad. Makes me wonder why and how it happens.

Hannah Ingram
Community Member
3 years ago

Maori had always been like that pre-British influence. They had had female chiefs, homosexuality was fine, and they accepted identifying as the other gender. It was only when the brits came stated that it was punishable that it was all affected.

Load More Replies...
anarkzie
Community Member
3 years ago

I did not know Christian missionaries were still trying to civilise the world, any death is sad but I don't agree with what he was trying to do.

Pamela24
Community Member
3 years ago

I live in the Czech Republic which is said to be the most atheist country in the world. I remember finding a website of an American Christian couple (they were friends with my American high school teacher) where they explained why they're in Prague and what they're trying to do. It basically said that the Czech Republic is a beautiful country but sadly is underdeveloped and behind because we're not mainly Christians. It still makes me angry to this day.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
Bored Birgit
Community Member
3 years ago

Why can't we just leave them alone? Without curiously exploring them? Bringing our bacteria, our way of living, our religion, whatever. Disturbing their isolation. Eventually bringing the wish for "better" or just other life to them. There are various examples of our influence on old tribes which did not end well. I fear the lately death of the unfortunate missionary will increase the attempt of various "adventurers" trying to get on this island on their own, just for a bit of fame. Please. Leave. Them. Alone.

Bored Birgit
Community Member
3 years ago

And a really good anthropologist should/would know that contact to an indigenous tribe has influence on them, and that leaving them on their own is the very best for them.

Load More Replies...
Daria B
Community Member
3 years ago

The part that mentions how culturally advanced these tribes are because they treat women with respect makes me think that this is only proof that it's unnatural to treat womem like shite for the mere reason of being female. It makes me really curious, though. All of the advanced societies in the world from either continent had (or still have) a point within culture where women are discriminated against, one way or another. Even without direct influences from abroad. Makes me wonder why and how it happens.

Hannah Ingram
Community Member
3 years ago

Maori had always been like that pre-British influence. They had had female chiefs, homosexuality was fine, and they accepted identifying as the other gender. It was only when the brits came stated that it was punishable that it was all affected.

Load More Replies...
anarkzie
Community Member
3 years ago

I did not know Christian missionaries were still trying to civilise the world, any death is sad but I don't agree with what he was trying to do.

Pamela24
Community Member
3 years ago

I live in the Czech Republic which is said to be the most atheist country in the world. I remember finding a website of an American Christian couple (they were friends with my American high school teacher) where they explained why they're in Prague and what they're trying to do. It basically said that the Czech Republic is a beautiful country but sadly is underdeveloped and behind because we're not mainly Christians. It still makes me angry to this day.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
Popular on Bored Panda
Popular on Bored Panda
User Submissions
Also on Bored Panda
Also on Bored Panda