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

By Sophia Maddox | May 3, 2024

Huaorani: Defenders of Tradition in Ecuador's Remote Wilderness

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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Archivo Centro Takiwasi

The Huaorani people live in Ecuador's Amazon Forest. There are almost 4,000 people who speak their language living in five communities near the Curaray and Napo rivers. Two of these communities have rejected all outside contact.

They hunt monkeys, birds, and wild peccaries. This tribe has many hunting taboos. For example, they will not eat deer because their eyes look too much like human eyes. Traditionally, they have used blowguns that are about 10 feet long. They used poison arrows to paralyze the animals, making them easier to kill.

Trees play a vital role in their religion. They draw many analogies between the way trees grow and their own lives. In addition, their language has no word for tomorrow or yesterday. They stay very focused on the present.

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.