live in a world of NetFlix, Twix, and the late 70s/early 80s band
Styx. But incredibly, not everybody binges on Netflix, indulges in
the chocolatey, wafery goodness of Twix, or frantically changes the
radio station the instant “Come Sail Away” starts playing on
K–103.5: Your Home For the Very Worst in Rock. That’s because,
unbelievably, there still exist civilizations that have had little to
no contact with the outside world. Why aren’t they watching those
YouTube videos of you opening mystery eBay boxes and revealing what’s
inside? Because most of them live on hard-to-reach islands or are
hidden within vast, heavily forested areas that are difficult to
reach by car/boat/helicopter/unicorn. With that in mind, here are 6
isolated tribes that would no doubt hit that subscribe button if they
had a WiFi connection.
and large, the primary evidence of the existence of the Kawahiva has
been archeological evidence (abandoned homes, arrows, hammocks, etc).
But video footage of the tribe filmed in 2011 garnered significant
attention around the world. Known by the locals as “the short
people” or “red head people,” they only number around 30
members and live near the Brazilian city of Colniza, and while they
live a nomadic lifestyle as a result of outside threats, there is
evidence that they once lived in established settlements. They are
known for the elaborate system of ladders they’ve built up in trees
in order to collect honey.
thousands of years the Yanomami have been inhabiting a stretch of
rainforest that encompasses southern Venezuela and northern Brazil.
Most of the 35,000 Yanomami live in village settlements that dot the
area, but the number of Moxateteu — the name given to the ones who
remain uncontacted — is relatively large. Measles wreaked havoc upon
the population in the 1960s and another 500 were infected in 2018.
Gold mining is another threat.
between 100 and 250 members, the Mashco Piro tribe faces threats as a
result of logging and oil/gas exploration. They largely shun
outsiders, which is understandable considering back in 1894, most of
their ancestors were slaughtered by the private army of Pervian
rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald. However, due to their increasing
displacement, some have started to emerge and have even been reported
asking neighboring communities for food. This carries its own risks
since the Mashco Piro lack immunities to common diseases.
to be South America’s last uncontacted indigenous group outside of
the Amazon Basin, Christian missionaries first encountered the Ayoreo
people in the 1720s, but when the mission was abandoned in 1740s, the
tribe was left alone for the next 200 years. In the early 19th
century, the Ayoreo were murdered in an act of genocide and children
stolen. While most of the 5,600 Ayoreo now live in settlements,
approximately 100 remain uncontacted and continue to live a nomadic
life within the Chaco Forest. However, loggers are clearing the
forests with bulldozers, causing the Ayoreo to flee deeper into the
forest. Aside from logging, the introduction of disease that the
Ayoreo aren’t immune to threatens to decimate the population.
all the tribes on this list, the Awá are the ones that are
considered to be the most endangered. They live in the Amazon forests
along the Brazil/Peru border, and of the tribe’s 600 known members,
only about 100 still live a nomadic lifestyle. The two biggest
threats to their existence are illegal logging and wildfires. As a
result, another tribe — known as the Guajajara — have taken it upon
themselves to act as guardians in order to protect them.
The Sentinelese are by far the most discussed of the isolated tribes. Located on North Sentinel Island, territory administered by India in theory but whose inhabitants are given complete autonomy in practice, the tribe is extremely hostile towards those who approach the island. Virtually nothing is known about the people; even the language they speak is so mysterious that it remains unclassified. They aren’t known to engage in agriculture and while they use fire, it’s unclear whether they know how to start one. It is illegal to visit the island, although that didn’t stop a naive American missionary from landing and trying to convert the Sentinelese to Christianity in November 2018. That went down as well as you would imagine. There are no plans to recover his body.