As always, I believe it’s the people who make a place. With around 400 million indigenous people living worldwide from about 5,000 different cultures, spread across 90 countries. It is fascinating to learn about their traditional ways of living in today’s modern world. They have inherited practices of their unique cultures and ways of living. While they make up less than five percent of the world’s population, they are more likely to suffer from discrimination, violence, malnutrition and often lack adequate social protection and economic resources. They live in isolated, remote corners of the world, with little to no contact with the modern world, they thrive by living in harmony with their surroundings. Let’s dive in and have a look at some tribes, their cultures and ways of living.
Yanomami – Northern Amazonia
A society in the deep Amazon forest. Yanomami means “human being”. The Yanomami are known as hunters and fishers, depending on the rain forest they grow bananas, gather fruit and hunt for animals and fish. Once the land has been exhausted and overused, they are known to move. Men are usually the hunters whilst women and the gatherers. They live in vine and leaf thatched houses which are surrounded by gardens. In everyday life, women are responsible for all domestic duties and upkeep of garden plots while the men hunt for food. Their beliefs that the natural and spiritual world are a unified force is what has shaped their traditions. Their spiritual leader is a Shaman. The use of hallucinogenic drugs amongst the Yanomami is very common for the men. They dress very eccentrically, decorate their bodies with paints and beads in colourful designs and interesting patterns. They have faced the attacks by the gold miners setting up illegal mines which have contaminated the water and destroyed their land. The widespread fires have affected the lives and livelihood of the Yanomami and many other tribes, they have burned the Yanomami’s rights and their way of life. The Yanomamis have had immeasurable losses by the fires, the rivers where they get their water have been damaged, the way they get their food has been damaged their rituals have been impacted.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Maasai Warriors – Kenya and Tanzania
The Maasai are semi – nomadic people from East Africa. I am fascinated by their distinctive customs and colourful clothes (Shuka). Their own language called the Maa language, is related to the Kalenjin and Nuer languages. In 2009 it was reported that there are 841,622 Maasai warriors. They are resilient and have continued their age-old customs, even when the Tanzanian and Kenyan government try to encourage the Maasai to abandon their lifestyle. The elder Maasai men decide most major matters. They have an out of court process called amitu ‘to make peace’ which involves a substantial apology and normally payment in cattle will settle matters. Long ago, high infant mortality means that babies are not recognized until they reach 3 months of age. End of life isn’t recognised by the Maasai warriors and the dead are left for scavengers. Cattle is their primary source of food. Comes from their religious beliefs that God gave them all the cattle on earth. Maasai’s needs for food are met by their cattle, they eat the meat, drink the milk and on some occasions drink the blood.
Huli – Papa New Guinea
The Huli are one of the largest cultural groups in Papa New Guinea with a population between 300,000 and 400,000 people. The Huli tribe lives in the Tari basin in the highlands of Papa New Guinea. Their diet consists of yams, manioc and sometimes meat from the village raised pigs. They live in grass huts, fenced by wood fences with mud walls. One practice that has been discouraged by western missionaries is that the pigs and women sleep in one hut whilst the men sleep in a separate hut. Huli mean are best known for their custom of wearing decorative wigs, used as elaborate headdresses decorated with coloured feathers while the women wear grass skirts. They have celebrations called sing – sings and they spend hours preparing, dressing up and faces get painted in bright yellow colours. Currently under threat by flooding which will result in destruction of their homes and crop damage. They are facing deforestation which will ultimately mean no grassed areas for them to build homes and less wild animals for them to catch.
Inuit – Greenland, Canada, Alaska & Siberia
The name “Inuit” means “the people” in the Inuktitut dialect of their language. Long ago they were referred to as “Eskimo”, the word “Eskimo” means “Eaters of Raw Fish”. Communities of Inuit people are found across the Arctic and their lifestyle is hard, dictated by the cold, harsh climate and the barren, desolate landscape of the Arctic. Since their lives are influenced by the cold, the Inuit learned how to make warm homes out of snow and ice over winters, but over summers their homes are made from animal skin stretched over a frame made of wood and whalebones. Their source of food comes from whales, sea lions, seals and walruses. Smaller fish, and land animals. Needing warm clothes to survive the harsh winters, they use animal skins and furs to star warm. Biggest threat to Inuit people is the climate change and global warming harming the environment in which they live in which impacts their traditional way of life.
Sentinelese – North Sentinel Island
I want to finish this article with the most isolated, non-contactable tribe in the world that has captured the imagination of millions, The Sentinelese. They have resisted contact and are hostile with outsiders having attacked anyone who has come near them. What is known about them has been gathered by viewing them from a distance. The population is uncertain but has been estimated as between 50 and 500. They are hunter – gatherers, using bows and arrows to hunt wildlife and catch seafood. They live in small temporary huts constructed with four poles and leaf – covered roofs. Essentially naked, they only wear bark strings with some ornaments such as necklaces and headbands.