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If you have been closely following the affairs of the Andaman Islands, you will know that the North Sentinelese are back in the news of the world.  On November 17th, an American Christian missionary named John Allen Chau bribed corrupt fisherman to take him to the forbidden island in the Bay of Bengal.  As previously set forth in one of our most popular posts, the island is inhabited by the mysterious North Sentinelese, a stone age hunter-gatherer tribe of unknown language and customs which has spurned all contact with the rest of humankind.  The North Sentinelese are bellicose and territorial and they want nothing to do with our networked world of technology, trade, and toil.

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The natives, likewise, had no desire to hear John Allen Chau’s proselytizing, and they swiftly dispatched him with arrows and buried his body as quickly as possible (as is their known custom).   North Sentinel island is part of India, although the islanders do not seem to recognize (or even know about) their citizenship, and the Indian authorities have been trying to recover Chau’s body.  This strikes me as a grave error, since the islanders have demonstrated time and again that they do not desire visitors of any sort.  Jesus can worry about his missionary’s final arrangements, thus saving the Indian police from savage battle and saving the islanders from measles, flu, smallpox, or goodness-only-knows what outside disease or influence which they are woefully unprepared for.

Despite ample incontrovertible evidence that the North Sentinelese do not want to integrate into the modern world, there are always arguments about whether the Indian government is operating a “human zoo” (undoubtedly the Sentinelese have some choice descriptions of the interconnected pan-global hive organism that the rest of us are part of, insomuch as they can conceive of it). It strikes me that they have made their choices plain.  The worldwide fame/infamy which the North Sentinelese have gained in the last fortnight will quickly fade away, and we can go back to thinking of them as a peculiar alternate sect of humankind—when we think of them at all…

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The Crown of the Kingdom of Tahiti

The Crown of the Kingdom of Tahiti

The Kingdom of Tahiti was founded when the chieftain Pōmare unified the islands of Tahiti, Moʻorea, Tetiaroa, Mehetia with help from the famous Captain Cook (and his vastly superior weapons and ships).  British missionaries and tradesmen subsequently helped Pomare and his heirs consolidate authority over the islands (in exchange for certain concessions and favors).  When King Pōmare III ascended to the throne in 1824, the London Missionary Society presented this crown to the monarch for use at the coronation. The somewhat unprepossessing crown of King Pōmare III is velvet and gilded metal. Though not especially regal, the royal headdress is at least very clearly labeled as the crown of Tahiti.  When the French outfoxed the British and claimed suzerainty over the islands, the kings and queens of Tahiti lost influence and were forced to abdicate in 1880.  Since then the crown of the Kingdom of Tahiti has become a museum piece and, indeed, it can today be found in the “Musée de Tahiti et des Îles” in Punaauia (should you inexplicably wish to see it).

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