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We talk about loss of biodiversity in this world and often think of animals, plants, insects yet we forget that we were once a vast multi layered tapestry of culturally unique and diverse expressions of the different flavours , colours, sounds, songs, prayers and reflections of this beautiful earth.

Then came monotone, conformity of ideas and beliefs through evangelical religions and their tyrannical belief systems of punishment by imaginary heavens and hellls if we didn’t give up our uniqueness and confirm to this new righteous viewpoint. This in itself helped to wipe out hundreds of indigenous people across the world.

From this loss came shopping malls and sweatshirts, fast food multi nationals and uniform high streets across the world selling us the same old fantasy of freedom and happiness if only we work hard enough to pay a mortgage for a tiny scrap of land which is owned by an imaginary line on earth and scribble on paper as if we don’t remember somewhere deep inside us the real freedom of the wild prairies and ancient forests, the deep rooted indigenous heart that still beats at the very core of our ancestral bones, knowing we were all once nomads.

Yet this remembering can’t be wiped out in some collective amnesia by the onslaught of screens and advertising perpetually reminded us we need more.

No we are wiser and more creative than all those petty and pointless distractions if we tap into our wild creative indigenous spirit and find a way to express that unique wild offering that will help all beings to jump up and live again!

To celebrate this here are some fascinating facts from indigenous and tribal peoples from around the world

Tribal societies are extraordinarily diverse and there’s a lot to learn from them.

Tribal societies put the community before the individual, sharing and exchanging possessions rather than amassing personal wealth
Money isn’t the key to happiness. A group of Maasai people from east Africa were found to have a similar life satisfaction rating to those on the Forbes 400 richest Americans list.

Hunter-gatherer tribes spend far less time working than we do. The Cuiva people of Colombia and Venezuela “work” for only 15-20 hours a week and spend many hours each day in their hammocks, made extra large so that spouses and children can all get in together.

Peace comes from dismissing concepts of ownership, competition, vanity and greed, according to the Piaroa people of Venezuela. They disavow violence, hold men and women to be of equal status, and never physically punish children.

The Hadza people of Tanzania value equality highly and have no official leaders. For them it is a moral obligation to give what you have without expectation of return. If you have more personal possessions than you have immediate use for, you should share them.

Yanomami hunters never eat their own catch. They give it away to others before they even bring it home. In turn, they only eat what the other hunters have given to them. Everyone eats something provided by someone else, fostering community spirit and cohesion.

Tribal societies possess an unparalleled understanding of some of the world’s most unique animals and ecosystems.

Tribal peoples have unique relationships with animals. The Baka people of central Africa have more than 15 different words for “elephant” depending on the animal’s age, sex and temperament, and believe their ancestors walk with the animals through the forest.

© Survival
Evidence shows that the best barrier to deforestation in the Amazon is protecting the territories of uncontacted tribes. There are around 100 uncontacted tribes living in this rainforest and, as hunter-gatherers, they’re uniquely in tune with their environment and have vast botanical and zoological expertise.

When they harvest honey from high in the trees, the Soliga people take some for themselves and leave some near the ground for tigers, who they consider family, because tigers cannot climb the trees and harvest honey for themselves.

When a child is born to the Orang Rimba tribe of Indonesia, the umbilical cord is planted under a Sentubung tree. The child has a sacred bond with that tree for the rest of their life, and for the Orang Rimba, cutting down a “birth tree” is equivalent to murder.

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To plow land is to “scratch the breast” of Mother Earth, say India’s Baiga people, believing God created the forests to provide everything humans need and gave the Baiga wisdom to find it. Only people that God didn’t give this knowledge to must farm to survive.

India’s Niyamgiri Hills soak up the monsoon’s rain, giving rise to more than a hundred perennial streams and rivers, including the Vamshadhara river. The Dongria Kondh tribe who inhabit this lush landscape call themselves “Jharnia”, meaning Protector of Streams.

© Survival
Unlike us, the Arhuaco people of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada take great responsibility for the wellbeing of the planet, seeing it as their job to keep Mother Earth in harmony. They see droughts and famines as a consequence of human failure to keep the world in balance.

Many tribal societies embrace gender equality; they show us that our society’s gender norms are not “natural” but culturally specific

Women were traditionally the main breadwinners among the Chambri people of Papua New Guinea. They did all the fishing and took the extra fish they caught out into the surrounding hills to trade with other tribes. Neither sex is seen as dominant in Chambri life.

Bayaka fathers spend approximately half the day near their babies. They even offer them a nipple to suck if the child is crying, and the mother or another woman is not available. It is not uncommon to wake in the night and hear a father singing to his child.

Monogamy is not a universal human trait. The Zo’é people of the Amazon are polygamous, both men and women may have more than one partner. Everyone is equal in Zo’é society and traditionally there were no leaders. All wear the ‘m’berpót’ – a long wooden lip plug.

© Survival
Many Native American societies traditionally recognised three genders. The third gender, “Two Spirit”, was seen as blessed; possessing unique insight thanks to their understanding of both masculine and feminine perspectives.

Women in industrial societies are still fighting for equality, but equal status of the sexes is normal for many hunter-gathers, like the Awá tribe in the Brazilian Amazon. Awá women participate in hunting trips and can even take several husbands.

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The level of power and independence enjoyed by the Innu women of Canada scandalized Catholic missionaries, who, up until the mid 20th century, tried to impose European standards, and make Innu women subservient to their husbands.

Not everyone considers women’s breasts to be indecent; for many tribes they are unremarkable, and other body parts may be taboo instead. Emberá women in Colombia may go topless, but they must always cover the sides of their thighs.

The Wodaabe people in northern Niger hold a male beauty contest every year at the end of the rainy season. Young men wear makeup, jewelry and their best clothes and line up to compete for the attention of the women.

Find out more:

Survival International

Survival International was founded in 1969 to fight alongside indigenous and tribal peoples to defend their lives and lands. There is nothing “primitive” about them, they just live differently.



amazing Photos by the genius Jimmy Nelson

Deja Hu


One Response

  1. Alex Betts says:

    it is the work of governments and dictatorships to crush cultures in order to remove the community back bone and install the doubt and fear into these entire ways of life ,while giving the illusion that the state is there to support nurture and better standards of life (of which they judge to be better)this process happens from the shires of england to the summits of great mountains to the detriment of freedom and humble existence

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