November 28, 2018

"The son of a doctor who fled China during the Cultural Revolution, Chau had been fascinated with the outdoors since he pulled a dusty copy of 'Robinson Crusoe' off his father’s bookshelf as a child…"

"He later read the novel 'The Sign of the Beaver,' about a boy who is left alone and guards his family’s log cabin with the help of a Native American friend. That book 'inspired my brother and I to paint our faces with wild blackberry juice and to tramp through our backyard with bows and spears we created from sticks,' Chau recalled…. 'He lost his mind, definitely,' [said an acquaintance]. 'But ask any adventurer. You have to lose your mind a little bit, otherwise you don’t do it.'"

From "'He lost his mind': Slain missionary John Allen Chau planned for years to convert remote tribe" (WaPo).

58 comments:

mockturtle said...

I'm currently reading Life and Death in Shanghai, a woman's experiences during the Cultural Revolution in China. Though I'm only about a quarter through the book I can see parallels to our society today. But instead of having to grovel in public shame for being born to wealth or having 'imperialist' acquaintances, we must grovel in shame for having been born white.

mccullough said...

I admire the lad’s dedication. The tribe would have been better off hearing him out. He might have changed their minds.

rhhardin said...

You can't improve someplace unilaterally. Existing power relations have to be protected.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

mccullough said...

I admire the lad’s dedication. The tribe would have been better off hearing him out. He might have changed their minds.

Or he might have passed on a communicable disease for which they had no resistance, killing off a significant percentage of the tribe.

Laslo Spatula said...

I have more respect for this missionary than I do the elites who fly private jets to exotic locations to attend conferences on how we all need to be converted to kneel at the Global Warming Church.

Because if Al Gore showed up on my doorstep with a pamphlet I would be very tempted to go native and run a spear through him.

I am Laslo.

Leland said...

He should have requested asylum. Still, I await the outrage that the villagers used deadly force to stop the immigrant. Oh no this is WaPo, so instead, going with the angle that the silly Christian lost his mind thinking he could just enter another country and tell them what their laws really should be.

mccullough said...

Communicable disease?

That tribe is going extinct. That land will be a resort in 50 years. There would be no new world with guys like Chau. He was a better man than the rest of us. Better than anyone from that douchebag tribe.

Nonapod said...

This tribe possibly represents the last true genetic isolate population of humans. It's possible that there's been no interbreeding with the outside human population for 60,000. It's kind of an archaeogenetic researcher's dream.

rehajm said...

Well played, Leland.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Short summary.

Mentally ill man commits suicide by indigenous tribe.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

mccullough said...

The tribe would have been better off hearing him out. He might have changed their minds.

Maybe, if he spoke in tongues. He certainly didn't speak their language, nor they his.

mccullough said...

Chau was different, not mentally ill. He didn’t think he was the Messiah. That guy was mentally ill.

Shouting Thomas said...

This guy had the same problem afflicting feminist or gay activists. He didn't understand that people have the right to be left alone.

People have the right to live comfortably in the traditional ways of their ancestors.

mccullough said...

Chau was different, not mentally ill. He didn’t think he was the Messiah. That guy was mentally ill.

mccullough said...

Shouting Thomas, you giving the land back to the Natives? Me, neither.

The United States exists because we believed other people didn’t have the right to land, much less to be left alone. Chau didn’t go in there with guns and try and take these guys by force. He tried to convert them. It was an unsuccessful invasion. If he went in with a battalion and weapons he would have been successful. That’s how Spain did it.

mccullough said...

Since the missionaries and conquistadors didn’t speak the Natives language, and the Natives didn’t speak Spanish, how is it that most of the Natives were converted to Roman Catholicism?

Tari said...

Would you die for your faith? This man did.

Shouting Thomas said...

@mccullough

You might say the traditional ways of our ancestors are war and conquest.

So, if you lose, you're fucked. Native Americans lost, i.e. ...

(War and conquest was also the traditional way of Native Americans.)

mccullough said...

ST,

In other words, there is no mythical right to be left alone. Chau wasn’t the violent one. These Savages were. I’m glad they’ll be dead soon enough.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

In general, multiple people, over extended time periods, while showing up with enough firepower to defend themselves if the natives were less than welcoming.

It was not just a matter of the natives hearing them out.

mccullough said...

Cortez helped native tribes slay the Aztecs. The Aztecs were worse than the Nazis. The Natives are now less grateful than the French.

Imperialism and colonialism saved many people from the tyranny of other natives. The Marshall Plan was a form of colonialism.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

how is it that most of the Natives were converted to Roman Catholicism?

By force. Threat of death. Examples by burning people alive......AND by similarities in existing religious practice by the natives.

Seriously though: The religionsof the Meso American tribes, whom the missionaries and conquistadors interacted with, already had many elements common to Catholic theology. For one instance, the Cross as a symbol was very important to the Mayans and the congruence of the symbolism of the Christian Cross was inevitable.

Catholicism in Mexico, Central America is a unique blend of the Catholic Latin Church and the native Aztec and Mayan religions.

Just like Christianity is a superimposition on European pagan religions which resulted in blending "holidays" and beliefs (Easter/eggs Christmas/yule logs Halloween! May Day celebrations) in order to make people grudgingly accept the new belief....it is the same in Latin America.

Synergy. The conversions were often done by force, but the result is a blended religion.

Excerpts of thoughts from my thesis paper in meso american anthropology many many moons ago :-)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

mccullough said...

That tribe is going extinct.

Is there a reason that you believe this?

mccullough said...

Yes. There is a reason I believe the tribe is going extinct.

EDH said...

I'm confused: Couldn't they use non-lethal tear gas? Or should the Border Patrol use bows and arrows?

Bob Boyd said...

'He lost his mind, definitely,' [said an acquaintance]. 'But ask any adventurer. You have to lose your mind a little bit, otherwise you don’t do it.'"


Reminds me a line from the film of Kipling's 'The Man Who Would Be King'. Two recently retired British soldiers in India during colonial times are making preparations for traveling to the remote, fictional nation of Kafiristan where they intend to make themselves kings of whatever peoples they find there. One of the soldiers, Peachy Toliver Carnahan, played by Michael Caine, tells an old acquaintance of his plans. The acquaintance thinks the idea is crazy and dangerous, which it is. Carnahan says, "If you could think us a little more mad we would be more pleased."

n.n said...

His opening to a voluntary exchange of knowledge and insight was met with aggression and violence. Exchange pleasantries. State your proposition. Then reconcile your differing, perhaps incompatible, interests.

n.n said...

Native Americans lost...

Native Americans were not. There were inter and intra-tribal conflicts that rendered the many nations and tribes a nuisance, but otherwise impotent. The same for the other native Americans (of United States jurisdiction), which is what lead to irreconcilable positions, and progressive conflicts, met with overwhelming force.

mockturtle said...

Just like Christianity is a superimposition on European pagan religions which resulted in blending "holidays" and beliefs (Easter/eggs Christmas/yule logs Halloween! May Day celebrations) in order to make people grudgingly accept the new belief....it is the same in Latin America.

Some of us still see Catholicism as a pagan religion.

The Godfather said...

Is this isolated tribe, and others such as in the Amazon jungles, being kept by the national governments as a zoo of primative humanity? Is that ethical? Sure, the governments say the tribes "want" to be left alone, but the tribes aren't informed of what the alternatives are. They aren't told, are they, that there are cures for the diseases that kill them at a young age, that death in chld birth isn't inevitable?

traditionalguy said...

The Narragansetts usually killed and enslaved the english fisherman, until their Sachem became convinced the new English’s tribe complete with women and children had firearms/gunpowder that made them a better friend than an enemy. The 50 surviving Pligrims entered a mutual defense treaty similar toNATO with Massasoit. Peace was made. They planted Indian corn seed and lived.

The Pilgrims came to the wilderness with a full intention to convert any Indian tribes. And their descendants succeeded all the way across the northern USA to the Pacific Ocean.

tim in vermont said...

It's good that he's dead. I hope that he's happy in Heaven. This story reminds me of the photo of a grinning hunter standing next to the carcass of the last eastern mountain lion that he had shot in Maine. This story had a happier ending.

tim in vermont said...

"Yes. There is a reason I believe the tribe is going extinct."

Share, please.

tim in vermont said...

"he tribe would have been better off hearing him out. He might have changed their mind"

They heard him, rejected his words and killed him per their laws. When they hooked those two dead fishermen to bamboo stakes and faced them out to sea, decent people would get the message that they wanted to be left alone.

YoungHegelian said...

@mockturtle,

Some of us still see Catholicism as a pagan religion.

Yeah, them mackerel snappers bringin' in that pagan shit like Plato & Aristotle to help explain stuff like the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Real Presence, & all that other La-Dee-Dah.....

Roy Jacobsen said...

mccullough said...
Chau was different, not mentally ill. He didn’t think he was the Messiah. That guy was mentally ill.

If you consider run-of-the-mill humanity to be "normal," the of course Jesus would be "mentally ill" in comparison. But really, he is the only truly sane human that ever walked the planet.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." -- Jim Elliot

mockturtle said...

The Narragansetts usually killed and enslaved the english fisherman, until their Sachem became convinced the new English’s tribe complete with women and children had firearms/gunpowder that made them a better friend than an enemy. The 50 surviving Pligrims entered a mutual defense treaty similar toNATO with Massasoit. Peace was made. They planted Indian corn seed and lived.

The Pilgrims came to the wilderness with a full intention to convert any Indian tribes. And their descendants succeeded all the way across the northern USA to the Pacific Ocean.


I have copies of several contract documents from my Puritan ancestors showing transactions with prominent Natives, usually land purchase. They didn't steal the land nor did they offer beads and trinkets but actual currency.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Some of us still see Catholicism as a pagan religion

Yes.

Just like civilizations and technology, religions are built on the thoughts, practices and religions of the past. Taking and using those parts that blend and always creating a blended new religion.

Christianity is built on Judaism, which is built on earlier religions back to the Sumerians. Infinity and Beyond!!!! and so on and so on. Catholicism incorporates parts of Norse and Celtic elements. Also Roman and Greek elements which originated based on earlier religions. Etc Etc Etc. World without end.

mockturtle said...

I agree, DBQ. However, Christians like myself don't see true Christianity as a 'religion' but as a relationship with God through Christ. And I've no doubt God used pagan religions to set the stage, e.g., the necessity of a blood sacrifice for sin. It's both highly complex and disturbingly simple.

n.n said...

Faith (i.e. logical domain, trust), religion (i.e. moral or behavioral philosophy), traditions (i.e. customs, choices, history), and organization are separable.

Rabel said...

Large areas of Africa would today be much like North Sentinel Island if not for European colonization.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Rabel said...

Large areas of Africa would today be much like North Sentinel Island if not for European colonization.

Not really. African tribes were not isolated, they interacted through trade, war, and interbreeding. They learned bits of neighboring tribe's languages.

I'm not saying that they would be modern nations with advanced technology. But they would not be isolated.

Rabel said...

"But they would not be isolated."

I was referring to behaviors and living conditions, not specifically isolation.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Rabel said...

I was referring to behaviors and living conditions, not specifically isolation.

The isolation largely defines their living conditions. They still live in the stone age, with the exception of a few metal artifacts that have found their way past the isolation. Nobody is even sure if they can make fire, they don't have pottery, and they don't have agriculture

Africa was already in the iron age before European colonization. Useful items were traded across large distances. Agriculture was common, as was pottery.

Rabel said...

"Africa was already in the iron age before European colonization."

I don't disagree that there were traces of what might be called civilization present in some areas of Africa before colonization, but I stand by the idea that large parts of the continent would still be in the stone age without the forcing caused by European influence.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Rabel said...

...I stand by the idea that large parts of the continent would still be in the stone age without the forcing caused by European influence.

I don't think the phrase the stone age means what you think it means. Or you don't know the state of technology in pre-colonial Africa.

President Pee-Pee Tape said...

Yet another post on the guy who would have killed off an entire tribe with influenza just so he could spout some political nonsense to them.

That's at least three, and counting. Anything yet on the tribe or their own plight - aside from not suffering from the Gospel of how to keep the irrelevant Roman Empire in moral/theological check? (Something that really applies to them, I'm sure).

If he liked the outdoors he should have worked to preserve more of it - like these natives undoubtedly would do if they were the norm and wackos like him were not.

President Pee-Pee Tape said...

Using the word "isolated" in reference to their isolation from our deadly diseases makes it sound not so good.

President Pee-Pee Tape said...

Religion is BS. It's just the socio-political method of reconciling mystery with power.

Natives reconcile mystery with power by paying homage to the trees and stars.

Jews and Zoroastrians reconciled the consolidation of imperial and monarchal power with the consolidation of a single deity.

Christians reconciled the earthly power and immorality of imperial Rome with an afterlife that together embraced all slaves and emperors who embraced the human slave-god/son.

Islam reconciled the disunity of tribes by creating a single imperial tribe dedicated to the singular ethereal chieftain.

etc. It's all political.

Kirk Parker said...

"Africa was already in the iron age before European colonization."

One of my momentoes from my time in South Sudan is a little chunk of refinery slag. Of course these days nobody knows how to mine or smelt locally, any more than they know how to make barkcloth.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

President Pee-Pee Tape said...

Anything yet on the tribe or their own plight...

There have been several café posts. Tribe members are welcome to use those to let us know how they're doing...

Gospace said...

mccullough said...
Shouting Thomas, you giving the land back to the Natives? Me, neither.

The United States exists because we believed other people didn’t have the right to land, much less to be left alone.


The United States exists for many reasons, and those aren't among them.

Native Americans, for the most part, didn't have property rights. Natives used the land, but didn't own it in the European or modern sense. There were no clear boundaries between one tribe and the next. No nations, per se. Many early settlers, as mentioned by mockturtle above, bought land from various tribes. It's possible a lot of tribes didn't actually understand the concept. That's their problem. A lot of times conflict occurred because "Native Americans" didn't respect property rights- because they didn't have a clear concept of what they are.

The Cherokees were the one tribe that came to understand how the system worked. And they were totally screwed over by a DEMOCRAT congress who passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830 with a DEMOCRAT President who signed the bill into law. Democrats really haven't changed much over the years.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

The officer in charge of sacrificing the swine and reading omens came dressed in his ceremonial robes to the pigpen. He spoke to the pigs.

"How can you object to die? I will fatten you for three months. I will discipline myself for ten days and fast for three. I shall strew fine grass, and place you upon a carved sacrificial dish. Does not this satisfy you?"

Then considering from the position of the pigs he thought: "It is better perhaps to live a life of freedom and survive on bran."

But returning to his own point of view, "To enjoy honour when alive one would readily die on a war-shield or in the headsman's basket."

Thus he decided for himself and also for the pigs.

In what sense then was he different from the pigs? ===== writings of Chuang Tzu

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

William said...

I'm a time traveler. I know what life was like 50-60 years ago. It wasn't Stone Age stuff, but it sucked. I remember when 'tvs were black and white and shows had commercials. I remember when it took two weeks to break in a new pair of shoes, and shoelaces got broken after a few rainy days. Life was hard. Young people don't know how hard. I wouldn't want to go back to those days........I was only able to survive in that primitive world because I didn't know about remote controls, internet porn, and foam lined shoes. If I had known that such things existed beyond my tribal enclave, I would have been miserable........I don't know if these tribal members are happy, and neither does anyone else. How can you. They live in complete isolation. Maybe they're midersble. In any event, whatever the quality of their life, they don't get much of it.

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President Pee-Pee Tape said...

There have been several café posts. Tribe members are welcome to use those to let us know how they're doing...

Helicopter surveyed (and this latest invasion by Chau) show that they're alive. Which wouldn't be the case if he got his way and killed them with his and society's influenza, etc. Try to keep up, Sparky.

tim in vermont said...

Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

Yeah, the problem is the false consciousness of the the tribespeople. They probably don’t even recognize transgender.