The world is undeniably more connected than ever, yet a few hundred tribes remain in isolation. While some of them are still uncontacted, many of these tribes have done so voluntarily. According to estimates by Survival International, widely regarded as the leading experts in indigenous rights, there are around 100 isolated tribes in the world. These tribes are spread across 60 countries, the majority living in South America and Southeast Asia. The Amazon rainforest alone is home to more than half of the uncontacted tribes.
Isolated tribes have managed to avoid significant contact with outsiders largely because of their geographical location. These tribes often live deep inside forests and jungles, making contact much more difficult. Even then, isolated tribes still face a number of threats. Violent clashes resulting from land conflicts are the most common ones. Logging, farming, poaching, drug trafficking, oil and gas exploration often lead to violent conflicts. Additionally, these tribes also lack any sort of immunity to common respiratory diseases such as the flu or colds. For this reason, a first contact with outsiders could lead to disastrous consequences.
Why do tribes remain in voluntary isolation?
It’s true that uncontacted tribes are quite rare. Contrary to what some may think, these tribes are perfectly aware of outsiders. And this is exactly why most of them choose to continue living their own way, even after making contact with settlers or other tribes. Fearing conflicts and exploitation, they often return to isolation. Most live a nomadic lifestyle, relying on hunting, fishing and gathering resources, although some tribes have also developed a semi-nomadic lifestyle by cultivating crops.
As an eco-conscious casino brand, Slothino is always raising awareness about important topics. Unfortunately, these tribes, their independence and lifestyle remain at risk. Before visiting our promotions page or playing your favorite casino games, join us as we take a look at some of the remaining isolated tribes in the world.
West Papua: Over 40 Isolated Tribes
West Papua, an Indonesian territory in Oceania, is home to more than 300 tribes. Out of these, there are around 40 isolated and relatively uncontacted tribes. It is difficult to point out the exact number as the Indonesian government has severe restrictions in place, forbidding journalists and activists from entering. According to accounts from the less isolated tribes, the uncontacted indigenous live in the distant highlands or inside jungles. Their activities are primarily cultivating crops, hunting and herding, but the isolated tribes also carry practices such as mummification and sacred rituals.
India and the Sentinelese People
The Sentinelese are one of the most famous isolated tribes in the world. They recently came back into evidence after the death of American missionary John Allen Chau in November 2018. Sentinelese live in the North Sentinel Island, part of the Andaman archipelago in India. The Indian Government declared the island a tribal reserve in 1956. The tribe has preserved practices from the Neolithic period, relying exclusively on hunting and collecting.
There are five other Andaman natives – Great Andamanese, the Jarawas, the Onge, the Shompen, and the Nicobarese – the Sentinelese have rejected contact with outsiders. However, in 1991, an expedition led by Indian anthropologists was able to initiate a peaceful contact with the tribe. The expeditions continued until 1997, when Indian officials understandably decided that the forced contact would do more harm than good to the Sentinelese. Since then, authorities have only observed the tribe from afar. According to an estimate by the Anthropological Survey of India on Vulnerable Tribal Groups from 2016, the Sentinelese population is between 150 and 200 people.
Amazonian Isolated Tribes
Over 50 isolated tribes live in the Amazon. According to Survival International, the majority of them live in Brazil and Peru. And these tribes are under serious threat. Having to deal with logging, drug trafficking, mining, oil extraction and farming, they are often driven away from their own home. As illegal activities make their way deep into the forest, isolated tribes constantly suffer violent attacks.
Much like the other isolated indigenous people, the Amazonian tribes rely primarily on hunting and collecting. Photos taken by Brazilian officials show that these tribes also build huts, which are also used as a sort of temporary hunting station.
Out of the Amazonian tribes, there are some worth paying additional attention:
The Mashco Piro, with an estimate of 800 individuals, is one of 15 isolated tribes in Peru. Much like the other tribes, the Mashco Piro have come under threat from illegal logging and oil extraction. In turn, the tribe has made contact with outsiders more frequently while trying to run away from violence.
Some members of the Yanomami tribe have also remained in voluntary isolation. Known as Moxateteu, these isolated members are also under threat from miners. Living along the border between Brazil and Venezuela, the Yanomami and Moxateteu deal with infectious diseases brought in by outsiders. The lack of appropriate medical care near their territory only aggravates the problems.
The Kawahiva tribe, meanwhile, was forced into a nomadic lifestyle because of deforestation. In 2011, the Brazilian protection agency FUNAI managed to film nine Kawahiva members, making it the first time the tribe was caught on tape. Since the Kawahiva are constantly on the move, there isn’t much evidence of their existence aside from tools left behind.
However, few tribes face a bigger risk than the Awá people. Considered the “world’s most endangered tribe” by Survival International, the Awá have been massacrated. Currently, the tribe has around 300 individuals, 60 of which live deep in the forest with no outside interaction. Illegal logging has made its way into the protected area, and the rise in wildfires is another major risk. Survival International points out that the Awá territory is disappearing faster than any other tribe in the Brazilian Amazon.
Protecting these tribes and respecting their right to self-determination is a very important matter, directly related to environmental preservation. Keep up with the latest news on the Slothino blog, as well as game reviews, promotions and much more. Stay a while, Play a while.