A Peek Inside the Most Isolated Tribes in the World
If you think we've discovered and explored every single part of our world, you would be dead wrong. The truth is we don't even know anything about some of the people living on it with us. It’s hard to believe, but hundreds of tribes around the world continue to live in complete isolation from modern civilization.
Many of these tribes are extremely serious about no outside contact, and if you happen to stumble upon them, it won't end well for you. Just wait until you hear about one man who has been living in the Amazon Rainforest by himself since the 1990s! Curious? Let’s take a peek inside some of the most isolated tribes in the world.
Winner of the Most Isolated Award
The Sentinelese have lived on the Andaman Islands for more than 50,000 years. They live in a completely remote location that is directly in the path of many tsunamis. Nonetheless, the Sentinelese continue to occupy the islands, and they refuse to share anything about themselves or interact at all with the rest of the world.
Approached by a Missionary
When the Sentinelese were approached by a missionary, it did not end well. When they say they don’t want to be contacted, they mean it. In 2018, John Allen Chau was on a mission to preach Christianity to the tribe, despite knowing it would be very dangerous. He admitted he was scared after the first visit, when a teenager shot an arrow at him, piercing his Bible.
Contact Reserved to Government Officials
Although isolated tribes should be left alone, it's important that the countries they live in become more involved in protecting them and their rights. In many cases — the Sentinelese being an obvious exception — contact initiated in the right way by the right people with the right intentions can be extremely beneficial, especially when it comes to spreading awareness about the tribe's living situation.
Monitoring with Modern Technology
Because modern civilization sometimes threatens to encroach on isolated tribes, it’s our duty to monitor the situation and help whenever we can. Scientists have revealed they keep tabs on many tribes using satellites. This allows them to incorporate non-invasive tracking and protection from any natural threats.
Tribes Making Contact
While many tribes have a strict (sometimes hostile) "no contact" policy, other previously isolated tribes have started to reach out to government officials in recent years. This is often due to shrinking tribe populations. As their numbers dwindle, some decide to ask for help and protection in order to survive.
67 Uncontacted Tribes in Brazil
In 2007, the FUNAI organization (Fundação Nacional do Índio) confirmed that there are 67 isolated tribes in Brazil. That gives the country the highest number of uncontacted tribes, surpassing some of the other areas around the world, including the island of New Guinea.
The Large Apiacá Tribe in Brazil
The Apiacá community suffered a population decline due to illnesses that infected their people after they were discovered by various settlers. In 2001, the tribe had around 192 members, but by 2009, the numbers seemed to significantly jump, as officials noted an increase of more than 1,000 members.
Many Hostile Tribes
Although it may seem unbelievable that anyone could still live like this on our planet, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to try to contact them to change things. It’s important to understand how serious their "no contact" policies actually are when they exist. Like the Sentinelese, many tribes violently refuse any contact with the outside world, making it dangerous for both us and them.
Development of Isolated Languages
Living in isolation brings out many unexpected survival skills, including developing your own language. While many tribal languages resemble languages found in nearby areas, it completely depends on how long the tribe has existed. Many tribes have their own language, completely independent of any other known language.
Weak Immune Systems
Beyond the risk of harm, one of the key reasons the public shouldn’t contact native tribes is because of the diseases and germs we typically carry. In 1910, a Brazilian engineer befriended a member of the Nambikwara tribe. It was a seemingly innocent act, with the man’s only intention being to offer peace and friendship.
Man of the Hole Alone in the Amazon
It’s hard to imagine being isolated as a community, but imagine being the last surviving member of an isolated community. Known as the Man of the Hole, this man is the last surviving member of his tribe, and he lives alone in the Amazon Rainforest.
A Symbol of Resilience
The Man of the Hole is considered a symbol of strength. After surviving genocide and living in the jungle by himself — all while knowing there is another world out there — the man is obviously incredibly tough. He is said to be in his 50s, and many officials view him as the ultimate example of resilience.
In order to protect the tribes, associated governments have started establishing forbidden zones designed to allow them to live their lives in peace. Thousands of acres have been declared as "no trespassing" areas to help protect the known as well as the unknown tribes.
Tribe with a Large Population
As crazy as it might seem, the Amazon Rainforest features way more indigenous people than you might think. The Yanomami group consists of more than 30,000 people in around 250 villages, all located in the rainforest. They are the largest isolated tribe ever discovered and live in a large territory spread across 9 million hectares.
Contact with the Fascinating Yanomami
The Yanomami tribe has a pretty impressive total population, considering they mostly live in an isolated territory. It’s considered to be the largest territory belonging to indigenous people in the world.
Human Rights Groups Working with Yanomami
The Brazilian government continues to make sure the Yanomami receive much-needed support. Organizations have launched several awareness campaigns that highlight the human rights of the community. These groups continue to highlight the oppression of the Yanomami people as they face attacks on their natural living environments.
Incredible Hunting Skills
The semi-nomadic Moken tribe lives in the Mergui Archipelago, and they have some of the most incredible hunting skills. The community has also developed diving skills like no other, leading some to refer to them as a sea tribe. They have refused any help from the government, insisting they can fend for themselves with their incredibly powerful eyesight.
Finding Tribes with Google Satellite Images
We already mentioned modern satellite technology, so let’s take a look at how Google Earth can help track the lives of isolated people. Obviously, we can’t use it to see the details of everything the group does, but it can help us see when the group decides to migrate to another location and where they go.
First Contact Expeditions
Expeditions to establish first contact with some of the Brazilian tribes have been going on for years. The government believed making contact was the best way to offer protection to these people, but many expeditions have been canceled in recent years due to ongoing concerns over the invasion of privacy.
It has been reported that cannibalism may still be widely accepted in some of the tribes. However, over the years, officials have determined that one of the last isolated tribes to practice cannibalism is the Korowai. It’s unclear whether the community continues to eat their own today. Past traditions indicated men’s bodies were sometimes overtaken by witches, and those witches could only be expelled if the man was killed and eaten.
Skilled at Archery
Considering that hunting is the primary way these tribes get their food, it’s not surprising that they have incredible archery skills. Their arrows are often tipped with poison, particularly when they feel endangered by outsiders.
Danger in the Form of Greedy Thieves
The tribes are no strangers to genocidal attacks, as they are often launched by their own people or other nearby tribes. One of the largest mass murders of isolated people reportedly occurred when a group of miners bragged about killing some tribes. They were overheard by an anonymous person who recorded the conversation and notified the authorities.
Immune to Bribery
You may think it’s easy to befriend these communities if you offer them something they need, but they have continuously rejected technology and other items that would help them survive and improve their living conditions. However, they are not completely immune to bribery.
Some of the tribal customs and traditions seem absolutely absurd to the outside world. For example, the Dani people, which are located in New Guinea, are known for finger amputation. This ritual is practiced across the island.
Sentinelese First Contact
Although the world didn’t know much about isolated tribes until the rise of the internet, expeditioners have known about them since 1880. Hundreds of years ago, Maurice Vidal Portman and his men were the first to discover the Sentinelese.
Accidentally Finding a Tribe
Imagine innocently exploring and then suddenly coming across a community of people who have never seen anyone like you before. In one of the weirdest Indian expeditions ever, the anthropologist Triloknath Pandit came across an aggressive tribe that managed to successfully scare off his ship.
Two Drunk Poachers
By now, you know that the Sentinelese are to be avoided at all costs. In 2006, two poachers were hunting for mud crabs when they unwittingly entered the exclusion zone that was protecting the territory of the Sentinelese tribe. The men got drunk and fell asleep on their boat.
The FUNAI organization launched a high-risk expedition to find Brazil's Korubo community — consisting of 22 people — which had suddenly gone missing. Despite the dangers of coming in contact with hostile tribes, the expedition was deemed necessary. The search was difficult due to the size of the indigenous lands, but the tribe was successfully located.
Speaking of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, human rights organizations have reported that his disdain could lead to future genocide and annihilation of the tribes. Considering Brazil is home to more than 50 such unique communities, it’s extremely important to take steps to protect them.
Destroying Their Homes
Destroying the Amazon Rainforest means destroying the home of thousands of humans who have lived on the land for hundreds of thousands of years. Economic progress is threatening many tribes as they flee due to the destruction of their living areas.