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Indigenous Tribes from Around the World

Updated September 23, 2021 212.6k views18 items
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Indigenous peoples of the world still live in some of the most isolated areas anywhere on earth, resisting contact with the outside world and staying free of societal influences. Uncontacted people live in a precarious balance, striving to maintain their own freedom while being threatened by an outside world they choose to avoid. Logging, ranching, oil exploration, gold mining, and tourism are all threats to indigenous tribes - meaning fewer of these tribes are able to survive.

When the outside world has made contact with these tribes, the results are often disastrous. Violent conflict with illegal loggers and gold prospectors has led to dozens of deaths, and since the tribespeople have no natural immunity, when they do make contact with settled societies, they are extremely vulnerable to common illnesses. There have also been incidents of tourists and photographers attack or shot with arrows by tribes who don't understand why they're being bothered. These tribes live in an increasingly dangerous position.

Here is a list of some of the most fascinating uncontacted peoples and interesting indigenous tribes still out there, and what we know about them at this point.
  • The Last Tribesman

    Somewhere deep in the Amazon jungle is the last survivor of an uncontacted tribe. His name is unknown, as is what he looks like or even what tribe he was from. In the late '90s, loggers in the area began talking about a mysterious tribesman they had encountered, and the Brazilian government attempted to find him. After numerous expeditions that ended either in frustration or arguments (one where the man shot a government official in the chest with an arrow) they finally declared a 30 mile wide part of the forest off limits to logging, allowing the man to live out his life in peace.
  • Mashco Piro

    A previously uncontacted tribe in Peru, the Mashco Piro began emerging in 2015, making contact with tourists, local officials, and missionaries. They're the descendants of tribesmen who were killed in the late 1890s and retreated into the jungle, where they stayed for over 100 years. They had isolated contacts with researchers and tourists for a while, and appear to have killed a photographer who was trying to take their picture, but eventually needed to emerge for food and tools when logging threatened their habitat.
  • Wapishana

    An isolated tribe living on the edge of rain forests in Guyana and Brazil, the Wapishana have about 7,000 members total. They are extremely distrustful of outsiders, and for a long time mingled only with other members of their tribe, crossing the border between the two countries without incident. They farm, hunt, and fish, while maintaining only nominal trade relationships with the settled towns near them.

    The Brazilian government attempted to organize the tribes into villages, but the effort failed. About half the tribe is now integrated into society, and the rest lives on their own.
  • Yanomami

    About 35,000 Yanomami tribesmen live in the rain forest on the border between Brazil and Venezuela. They live in demarcated villages, and while contact has been made, the groups live mostly in isolation. The few encounters between Yanomani and Brazilian authorities have been violent, and the group's population was drastically cut down by gold miners intruding into their territory and bringing disease with them.

    A well-known incident called the Haximu Massacre involved about a dozen Yanomani killed gruesomely. The group has a reputation for violence, both within the tribe and with outsiders.