1. Uncontacted Amazonian tribe
The most mysterious on this list, a tribe in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon is one of the most remote in the world. Recently discovered, so little is known about the tribe that they don’t even have a name yet—and the only reason they’ve been found is due to drug traffickers and deforestation encroaching on their village.
Although it appears the tribe’s contact even with other tribes in the region is limited, they do, apparently, share the Pano language with them—but with a previously unknown dialect. Aside from that, we know that they live in large, thatched huts—implying that more than just the nuclear family inhabits them—and that their primary food sources are crops such as bananas, corn, and peanuts.
2. Inuits of Canada
Canada’s Inuits are among the oldest-known peoples, being traced back as many as 20,000 years ago. Not only this, but they have survived all those years in one of the harshest environments in the world: the northernmost reaches of Canada, with long daylight hours with moderate temperatures in the summer, to winters of near-constant darkness and below-freezing temperatures.
Most of their livelihood is made through hunting sea mammals like seals as well as whaling and fishing—and their prowess here is well-known. Families live together as their own ecosystems, with each member taking on specific tasks for the benefit of all. Moreover, Inuits were always more technologically advanced than any of their neighbors; that is, until North America was colonized.
Native to Sápmi, a region encompassing parts of the northernmost areas of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia, the Sami are Scandinavia’s only official indigenous people.
They have practiced a number of livelihoods over the years, focusing on fur trapping, sheep herding, and fishing, though they are perhaps best known for reindeer herding. They rely on reindeer not only for sustenance, but utilize their hides for clothing and shelter as well (pictured above). Their language, Sami, is still spoken as a mother tongue by the majority of the people, and it is likewise retained as a first language in many schools in the far north, as well as at Sami University College.
Like the uncontacted Amazonian tribe, the Sentinelese vehemently oppose contact by outsiders. Fortunately for them, they live on North Sentinel Island, which is part of the Andaman archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The population is estimated to be less than 250 people at this point, partly due to the fact that they’re a hunter-gatherer society and no evidence has been found of agricultural practices.
They are notoriously accurate with javelins and bows, though there is little evidence of any advanced metalwork or technology (particularly because there are scarce resources on the tiny island). As for social practices, not much is known, though Indian anthropologist T. N. Pandit observed a sort of “community mating” back in 1970.
Found in northern Brazil and southern Guyana, the Wapishana people first made contact with Europeans in 1498, during Columbus’s third voyage. Originally the Wapishana practiced polygyny (a husband possessing multiple wives), but due to the influence of missionaries, most Wapishana marriages are overseen by a Catholic priest.
Otherwise, many of the Wapishana’s traditions are still intact, such as villages being designed and centered around churches, with villagers’ livelihoods focused on growing cassava (an edible root). Most households include the nuclear family plus a grandparent. However, the village leader occupies the main, large house, while it is surrounded by smaller homes for his sons and daughters and their families.
Photo credit here.