Journey to the Margins: A Visual Chronicle of Hidden Indigenous Tribes Around the World

By Sophia Maddox | April 19, 2024

The Nukak: Rainforest Nomads of Colombia's Depths

Lost tribes, hidden away in remote jungles, deserts, mountains, or islands, preserve ancient ways of life that intrigue and captivate our imaginations. Their rich cultures and untold stories spark curiosity, offering a glimpse into a world untouched by modernity. These resilient communities cling to traditions and languages passed down through generations, showcasing the enduring strength of the human spirit. As we contemplate their existence, we're reminded of our own connection to history and what it truly means to thrive in harmony with nature. Join us on a journey to uncover the extraordinary tales of these lost tribes and celebrate the resilience that binds us all together.

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The Nukak people live in Colombia's forests. They often eat monkeys, birds, and small mammals. In addition, they eat fish caught in local streams. People worldwide became aware of them when about 40 showed up in Calamar, Colombia.

Traditionally, these people used ingredients from five plants to make a poison that they would put on blow darts for hunting. After being forced out of their homes, they would wad a ball of rubber gum and use these darts to hit birds with the substance, which made it harder for the birds to fly and easier for the tribe to catch them. They also wrap their arms before scurrying up thorny trees, allowing them to move quicker and more nimbly. Members have a special call that they can perform to call a jungle bird. The bird scares away bees from their hive. Then, they can collect the honey.

Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau: People of the Amazon's Hidden Heartland

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The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau live in small villages in the Western Brazilian state of Rondônia. Traditionally, they lived in homes built of wood, palm leaves, and thatch. The homes had very high roofs and doors on two sides to stimulate airflow. Today, they often live in wooden houses. They raise cassava, maize, and bananas on small plots. People also gather berries and nuts from the forest.

Initial contact with this group occurred in about 1906. Additional contact happened in 1980 when 250 people were counted. Within 13 years, their number fell to 88. Respiratory illnesses caused by outsiders decimated the area's six villages. In the early 2020s, the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau embraced technology to make a film portraying their plight.

The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau holds many unique festivals throughout the year. Men often play bamboo flutes and dance during these festivals.