Table of Content
- 1 The 9 most isolated tribes in the world?
- 2 1. The Sentinelese People, Andaman Islands
- 3 2. The Yaifo Tribe, Papua New Guinea
- 4 3. The Palawan Tribes
- 5 4, The Ayoreo People, Paraguay, and Bolivia
- 6 5. The Awa Tribe, Brazil
- 7 6. The Huaorani People, Ecuador
- 8 7. The Yanomami People, Venezuela, and Brazil
- 9 8. Kawahiva, Brazil
- 10 9. Mascho-Piro, Peru
The 9 most isolated tribes in the world?
Isolated Tribes: Can you imagine that even in this globally connected world there are people that live remotely, not knowing what the internet is and what the planet looks like? The story of human progress is a linear one. Mostly because meaningful progress takes centuries. From the Sumerians to the Greeks, the Assyrians to the Babylonians, the Arabs to the Europeans history travels in a single line. Civilizations learn from each other and build upon prior knowledge. Ill-disciplined and unorganized attempts at progress are rarely met with success. Had it not been for the Greco-Roman marriage, the Western world would have looked very different. Had it not been for the contributions of the Nile valley civilizations, the human race would not be the same. And, if it was not for the Islamic Golden Age, there would not have been a Western Renaissance. It may seem unusual, but the threads of history join in the most unexpected of ways. The only constant? The constant drive for change and knowledge. However, for tribes and cultures that are cut off from the rest of the world, the constant is constancy. Without the inclusion of foreign knowledge and the inability to impart their wisdom to the world at large, it becomes virtually impossible to progress in the typical sense of the word. No matter how different it may be to conceive, there are tribes, even today, that are remote and isolated from the rest of the planet. Almost all of them have a hunter-gatherer lifestyle and face extinction in the face of industrial expansion. Here are 9 unbelievable, isolated tribes that actually exist:
1. The Sentinelese People, Andaman Islands
The Sentinelese People, Andaman Islands, India This might be the most popular entry on the list. The Sentinelese people made the headlines in 2018 for the murder of a US national – a missionary, earning them much notoriety over the world. The tribe situated on the North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal has been living there for around 50,000 years or more. It is believed that they migrated from Africa somewhere around 60,000 years ago. It is wrong to regard them as a Stone Age tribe because their ways of life have changed over the centuries. While they have made progress internally, no exposure from the outside world means that they still appear bizarre to the average person The Sentinelese are only one of the six isolated tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Jarawa tribe is also famous for having lived in the area for around 55,000 years. Survival International, an organization devoted to the rights of tribal people has said about the Sentinelese, “Neighbouring tribes were wiped out after the British colonized their islands, and they lack immunity to common diseases like flu or measles, which would decimate their population.”Over the years, they have been hostile towards people who come uninvited to their land. Some people claim that the “hostility construct” is a figment of the colonial mindset. The tribe has made peaceful contact with Indians on several occasions, and during the colonial drive of the British, they even befriended the colonialists – to their own detriment. The Indian government has made sure that people keep a distance from the island, a difficult feat considering the increase in their popularity and the general trends of tourism.
2. The Yaifo Tribe, Papua New Guinea
The Yafo Tribe, Papua New Guinea You might have heard of West Papua, the western half of the island of New Guinea. It is a piece of inaccessible land, owing to a large number of uncontacted tribes. However, it was the East Sepik jungle from where journalist Benedict Allen emerged. He had disappeared for three weeks in the region before being picked up. He penned a book to recount his expedition. Thirty years later, he returned with some colleagues to make a documentary about the tribe. Located in the Highlands of Papua Guinea, the Yaifo is one of the most remote people in the entire world. Their lack of contact with the outside world has made them the subject of myths and legends. They are known for being particularly intolerant to outsiders and are often described as “head-hunters,” who cherish the heads of encroachers as trophies. In his book, Benedict describes the greeting upon making contact with the tribe in the following words, “a terrifying show of strength, an energetic dance featuring their bows and arrows.” He had to undergo a grueling initiation ritual to be able to live with them and study them for a while. The Yafo people remain some of the most remote people in the world today.
3. The Palawan Tribes
The Palawan Tribes, the Philippines The Palawan island of the Philippines is home to around 40,000 indigenous people. Over the years, industrialization and tourism have caused some to integrate with the outer world, but the rest remain uncontacted. The ones that shy from contact have been pushed further inland due to encroachment. The Palawan tribes are mostly shifting cultivators. They clear a small area of the forest, cultivate food on it, and then move on, allowing the forest to regain its strength. They also collect wild honey and resin. They were originally nomadic, but after a mining rush in 2008, agrarian settlers took over most of their lands. The Philippines government even partially banned their practice of shifting cultivation. The island is home to the Kagayanen, Tagbanwa, Palawano, Tau’t Bato, Molbog, and Batak tribes, and each of them has a varying level of integration. The people of the Batak tribe have faced the threat of swift extinction in recent times, with their numbers being as low as 300. On the other hand, the Tau’t Bato mostly live in caves and the crater of an extinct volcano. Some of these tribes follow the ritual of consulting spirits in their dreams and perceiving omens.
4, The Ayoreo People, Paraguay, and Bolivia
The Ayoreo People, Paraguay, and Bolivia Quite similarly to the Palawan tribes, the Ayoreo people have come under the threat of increasing industrialization. In this case, deforestation makes it hard for these people to live their lives as they have been doing for so many years. Situated between the border of Paraguay and Bolivia, the Ayoreo people number 5,600 in total. The Ayoreo are nomadic people and continue to use their established routes for migration. They reject modern ideas of legality regarding land, possessions, and borders. The earliest instances of their encounters were recorded in the 18th century by the Jesuits. The Ayoreo people have seven clans and, like most uncontacted people, have a shamanistic dimension to their social life. The most isolated clans of these tribes are a people known as Totobiegosode. Roughly translated as “people from the place of the wild pigs,” they are almost entirely isolated from modern life. With highways and industries creeping from both sides, most of these people have been forced out of their homeland.
5. The Awa Tribe, Brazil
The Awa Tribe, Brazil We finally arrive at the Amazon rainforest, home to some of the most endangered tribes in the world. Most of these tribes face extinction in the face of deforestation. Some of them are uncontacted, but most of them have come into some degree of contact with outsiders over the last century. Often dubbed the most endangered tribe on the planet, the Awa people of Brazil are largely connected with the outside world, except for a small group. Originally, the Awa people, who are quite smaller than the average Amazonian tribal people, used to live in settlements. However, after coming into contact with Europeans in the early 19th century, they adopted a nomadic lifestyle. Encroachment further threatened their land and their numbers kept reducing. Of the 300 remaining Awa people, around 60 to 100 still live their nomadic lives in complete isolation. With the wildfires and illegal logging, it is hard to believe that they can sustain their way of living over the next few generations.
6. The Huaorani People, Ecuador
The Huaorani People, Ecuador Before we get to the Huaorani people (also known as the Wars), let’s briefly discuss the Taromenane people. Another Amazonian tribe in Ecuador, they are an extremely remote tribe. A small group by design, they have lived the same way for centuries. However, since the Amazon is home to so many tribes, some of them are bound to come into contact with one another. And so it happened that the Taromenane came into contact with the Huaorani people, who quickly developed into their rivals. Over their history, the two groups have clashed several times. The Huaorani are responsible for murdering many members of neighboring tribes. After the killing of five American missionaries in 1956, they caught the attention of the international media. Since then, some Huaorani individuals have begun communicating with the outside world and have started living in conjunction with the prevalent norms of the land. However, a large number of them still live isolated from the world, as dangerous and vicious as they have ever been. They are estimated to be around 4,000 in number, spread across a shrinking piece of Ecuadorian land.
7. The Yanomami People, Venezuela, and Brazil
The Yanomami People, Venezuela, and Brazil Another tribe, courtesy of the Amazon. There are around 35,000 Yanomami people in the rainforest. The Yanomami are particularly known for practicing endocannibalism, the practice of eating their dead. The Yanomami, who live in 200 to 250 villages, have been quite violent to outsiders at times. Some people have written it off as a lack of Western values, which seems quite reductive, especially since the Western world has been home to the most extraordinary violence and brutality for most of its recorded history. An American anthropologist, R. Brian Ferguson, claimed otherwise, “Although some Yanomami really have been engaged in intensive warfare and other kinds of bloody conflict, this violence is not an expression of Yanomami culture itself. It is, rather, a product of specific historical situations: The Yanomami make war not because Western culture is absent, but because it is present, and present in certain specific forms.”Here, he is referring to the tribe’s push against the presence of the state. Another remote tribe that the Yanomami keep an eye on is the Moxateteu, the uncontacted members of the tribe that lives in complete isolation.
8. Kawahiva, Brazil
The Kawahiva are a small tribe of around 50 to 150 people in the Brazilian stretch of the Amazon. They are hunter-gatherers, who live in communal shelters and can be traced back to the early 18th century. A nomadic tribe with little to no contact from outsiders, locals mostly register their presence by the physical evidence they leave behind. They not only avoid contact with city people but also with other indigenous tribes, which is interesting because they may very well have descended from another tribe. Their existence was confirmed in 1999, but there is very little information about their culture and history. People believe that because they are always on the move, running from loggers and hunters, they have stopped having children.
9. Mascho-Piro, Peru
Mascho-Piro, Peru Not to be confused with the Incan site, Machu Picchu, the Mascho-Piro is a Peruvian tribe that has started cropping up in recent years. After avoiding contact with non-native people for years, they are initiating contact as of late. There are between 100 and 250 uncontacted Mascho-Piro, but their numbers used to be a lot higher. For the last four decades, around 600 to 800 of them have been in contact with other indigenous communities of the Amazon rainforest. They have continued to visit the locals and ask for food and clothing. They probably have lived in seclusion for the better part of a century. With the advent of industrialization, indigenous tribes have had to face tough challenges in recent years. The Amazon rainforest has the highest number of uncontacted tribes, followed by Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. With the loggers closing in, what does the future hold for them?