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The Uncontacted Tribes

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Ankita loves to explore various aspects of science and is passionate about writing on topics of her interest.

Although globalization has brought every population and culture closer than before, there still exist many places and people who are not known to the outside world. It is estimated that there are nearly 100 such uncontacted pockets of people around the world. Though very few are known of these tribes, it is imprecise to call them uncontacted since it is nearly impossible to completely avoid people from the outside world and the objects made in the factories most of all. Here is a list of some of the isolated tribes around the world.

The Sentinelese Tribe

This indigenous group of people occupy a small island in the Bay of Bengal in India. The island lies 1200 kilometres from the Indian mainland and has an area of just 60 square kilometres. It has belonged to India since 1947 but is identified as a sovereign state. It is estimated that around 50 to 150 Sentinelese people live there. Their lifestyle mainly revolves around hunting on the heavily forested island. They have their language unintelligible to outsiders. It is believed that these people migrated from Africa about 50,000 years ago but most of their details are still not known to the scholars. Satellite photos and overflight footage shows no sign of agriculture. The metal they use comes mostly from the shipwrecks along their coast. The Sentinelese tribe have always disliked visitors. The Indian government attempted to formally contact the tribe in 1996 but was rebuffed. Since then, they shoot arrows to the boats that come too close to their shores. A National Geographic team was forced to turn back when two local guides were killed and the lead team member got an arrow through his thigh. The Indian Government, out of respect for the tribe’s wishes to be left alone, made it illegal to sail within five kilometres of the island.

Sentinelese Tribe

Sentinelese Tribe

The Moxihatetema Tribe

A plane flying over the Amazon rainforest in 2016 captured photos of this lost tribe. This group from Brazil has consistently spurned contact with the outside world. Even they distance themselves from other indigenous groups in that area who are referred to as Yanomami. Yanomami is a group of about 35,000 native people living in about 200 to 250 villages in the Amazon rainforest. The Moxihatetema tribe is very much traditional despite surrounded by illegal mining groups. People who have seen them from afar found that they have no industrialized possessions.

Moxihatetema Tribe

Moxihatetema Tribe

The New Guinea Tribes

West Papua is known to have around 312 tribes. The intermediate tribes, who have made some contact in the past, tell about the other isolated groups residing in the remote highlands. While filming the Asmat people in New Guinea, Michael Rockefeller, the son of the vice-president of the United States Nelson Rockefeller, vanished. Contacting these tribes has never been easy and as such, little is known about the tribes of New Guinea. These tribes cultivate bananas, sweet potatoes, and cassava and also herd pigs. They have always regarded modern metal tools to be inferior to their traditional blades and stone axes, both in terms of maintenance and performance. One of the largest ethnic groups of Papua, consisting of about 25,000 people or so, have maintained their cultures despite increased communication with the outside world.

Korowai Tribe of Papua New Guinea

Korowai Tribe of Papua New Guinea

Javari River Valley Tribes

The Brazilian government body FUNAI in 2017 shared photos and drone footage of an isolated tribe in the Javari Valley. The pictures showed canoes and tools of indigenous tribes and a thatched hut in the territory. According to FUNAI, there are 11 confirmed isolated tribes and eight contacted tribes in the Javari River region. Very little is known about these isolated tribes but efforts to find out more about them are discouraged. It is found that they have acquired metal goods through trade. Also, overflights reveal that they both cultivate and hunt their food. The Brazilian government was forced to change their policy of enforced contact following the unfortunate fate of one of the tribes, the Matis. Within weeks of the first visit by the officials, disease decimated three entire villages. The risk to these remote tribespeople comes even from logging and closer mining operations besides the threat of disease.

the-uncontacted-tribes

Conclusion

Conservationists struggle to protect the identified uncontacted tribes in some Amazonian countries with fewer resources, like Peru, from prospectors and loggers. Some argue initial contact should be made by anthropologists who can then monitor the health of those people by staying in their region. But other anthropologists support the continuous isolation of these tribes since past experiences reveal that they are susceptible to diseases from the outside world. Many officials and missionaries offered gifts of medicines, metal, glass, etc., but they also brought bacteria and viruses harming the people they intended to save. Brazil, along with India and Indonesia, is attempting to enforce laws to protect these isolated groups of people and their land. These tribes are part of our shared humanity and there is a strong need to preserve and protect their unique cultures.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Ankita B (author) on December 31, 2020:

Thank you, Devika, for your generous comments. I am happy to know that you liked reading this article and found it informative. I appreciate your kind comments very much.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 31, 2020:

Ankita B Such tribes are so interesting to learn of in this day. Information that fascinates me and a well thought of hub.

Ankita B (author) on December 31, 2020:

Thank you very much, Rosina, for your generous and insightful comments which I always appreciate. I am so glad that you enjoyed reading this article and found it interesting. Also, no worries for commenting late:-)

Rosina S Khan on December 31, 2020:

First of all, Ankita, I apologize for being late to comment. I enjoyed reading your article very much about the isolated tribes existing in the world. It is also my opinion that they should be left on their own, offering them help from a distance because they bring germs and diseases to the outside world. Thank you so much for the interesting share.

Ankita B (author) on December 31, 2020:

I always appreciate your generous comments very much, Linda. Thank you for reading and commenting. I am glad you liked reading this article.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 31, 2020:

Thank you for creating an informative article, Ankita. I've actually been thinking about isolated and uncontacted tribes lately. It was very interesting to read about them.

Ankita B (author) on December 30, 2020:

Thank you, Chitrangada, for your kind and insightful comments. Yes, there may be many more such tribes about whom we know very little. I am glad you found this article interesting and informative.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 30, 2020:

This is an excellent article on a unique topic.

Yes, there exists such tribes, those you have mentioned above and may be many more, about whom we don't have much information. They need to be protected, but with caution.

We often read about them in magazines. Thank you for providing this interesting and important information.

Ankita B (author) on December 30, 2020:

Thank you, John, for reading and commenting. I appreciate your insightful comments very much. True, the so-called advanced civilization has been a threat to all these indigenous tribes.

I am glad that you found this article interesting.

Ankita B (author) on December 30, 2020:

Thank you, Pamela, for your generous comments which I always appreciate. Yes, it is really necessary that these tribes be protected.

Ankita B (author) on December 30, 2020:

True, MG. Their survival will be difficult unless the necessities are provided to them. Thank you very much for your insightful comments. I am glad that you found this article interesting.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 30, 2020:

A very interesting article Ankita. If we look back at history we can see how so-called "advanced" civilization has destroyed many indigenous tribes by disease, genocide, invasion of habitat etc. Let us just leave them alone to live their lives the way they have always done. It is amazing that there are still so many "untouched" tribes left.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 30, 2020:

I found this article to be very interesting, Ankita, and I had no idea there were so many tribes. Of course, with a nursing background I was not surprised to hear of the deaths of multiple people after being visited by officials. I am glad some of these tribes will be protected.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 30, 2020:

Very interesting article. I have gone so many times to the Andaman Islands and I used to take my chopper over sentinel island also. My take on these tribes is that in due course they will become extinct unless the latest medicines are not given to them but there's a catch 22 situation as to how to go about it as they are very hostile.

Ankita B (author) on December 30, 2020:

True what you have said, Peggy. Thank you for your insightful comments which I always appreciate.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2020:

I agree with Ann Carr's assessment. Since transmission of a disease often kills entire tribes, I think that tribes, like these, should be left alone. Amazingly, there are still so many of them around. Thanks for writing this article.

Ankita B (author) on December 30, 2020:

Thank you, Osman, for reading and commenting.

Ankita B (author) on December 30, 2020:

Yes, I agree with that too. Thank you, Ann, for reading and commenting. I am glad you found this article informative.

Osman Ghazi on December 30, 2020:

Nice

Ann Carr from SW England on December 30, 2020:

It's fascinating that so many tribes still exist and I think we should leave them alone if that's what they want. Who are we to interfere? They don't interfere with us. I agree that they should be protected - but from afar.

Great article and necessary information for all of us!

Ann

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