The Lives of Indigenous People Around The World

While most of us live in a hyper-connected world in the modern 21st century, many people don’t realize that there are still indigenous people who continue to live how they used to from centuries ago. From how they dress to what they eat, native people maintain their traditions and other aspects of their early culture to this day. Check out these images highlighting the lives of indigenous people.


Giraffe Woman


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Women of the Kayan tribe have worn elaborate brass coils around their necks for centuries. Many call them the giraffe women. The Kayan are one of a number of sub-groups of Maynmar’s Red Karen people, also known as the Karenni. They are referred to colloquially in English as the ‘long-neck people’ for their trademark neck rings. These coils are worn as early as five years old. It appears to stretch the neck, however, there is no growth or lengthening of the neck. In fact, the coils appear to cause the collarbone to become deformed.



Nomad In Algeria


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The Tuareg people are a large Berber ethnic confederation. They live in the Sahara from Libya to Algeria. Though traditionally nomadic pastoralists, many are semi-nomadic Muslims. The Tuaregs have been called the “blue people” for the indigo dye colored clothes they traditionally wear which stains their skin.


Peace Pipe


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A woman smokes a peace pipe with an Indian chief at Glacier National Park, Montana, on July 13, 1935. A Native American peace pipe is often used in a sacred ceremony. During the ceremony, they smoked from the peace pipe and said a prayer to the four directions. These ceremonial pipes have different names depending on each culture’s indigenous language. Archaeological research has found evidence of tribes that lived in the Glacier National Park dating back over 10,000 years ago, such as the Blackfeet and the Kootenai.



Pet Whale


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In the photograph above, Eskimo women pet a trapped whale on October 26, 1988, in Alaska. The whales were kept in the enclosure before they left for their final destination: the Atlantic Ocean. The main peoples known as Eskimo are the Inuit and the Yupik. Interestingly enough, people in the Arctic consider Eskimo a derogatory word because it was used by non-native colonizers. People also thought it meant people who eat raw meat, which correlates to barbarism and violence.


The Cheyenne Tribe


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The Cheyenne are an indigenous people of the Great Plains comprised of two Native American tribes. When they first made contact with Europeans, the Cheyenne were living in what is now Minnesota. 



Aim and Fire


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Native-Americans in Missouri, 1951, throwing arrows with their bows. The word “Missouri” even comes from the tribal word that means “big canoe people.” There were seven tribes in the area of what is now known as Missouri, including the Chickasaw tribe, the Illini tribe, the Ioway tribe, the Osage tribe, the Otoe tribe, the Quapaw tribe. There are currently no federally recognized Indian tribes in Missouri today. Most were forced to leave Missouri during the Indian removals in the 1800s.


Tribal Tattoos


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In this incredible photograph, an indigenous woman from the Kayapo tribe lives poses for the camera. The Kayapo are a powerful and well-known Brazilian tribe. In 2003, the Kayapo population was at an estimated 7,096. There are many subgroups and some of them exist in total isolation having little contact with other Kayapo. They refer to themselves as Mebengokre, meaning ‘the men from the water place’. Their culture is rich and complex; their appearance is decorative and colorful, using face and body paint. They paint their bodies with patterns that look like an animal or insect markings including those of bees. Women shave a V shape into their scalp and men wear flamboyant headdresses to represent the universe.



Inuit Spear Fishing


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The Inuit had to get creative and innovative when it came to making their own weapons and tools for survival. Inuit weapons were mainly for hunting or to protect against their enemies. A prolonged fishing spear is called a kakivak.


King of the Jungle


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This photograph taken on March 4, 1950, shows a Turkana native slicing off pieces of meat from the dead lion at his feet. The Turkana people are native to northern Kenya; they refer to their land as Turkan. Their language is also called Turkana and they call themselves the Turkana. The Turkana are known for raising camels and weaving baskets. They mostly rely on animals for meat and milk.



Kalash Tribe


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The Kalash are indigenous people of Pakistan, considered to be the country’s smallest ethnic group. The Kalash’s religion has been characterized as animism, a belief that objects, places, and creatures have a spiritual essence. There are approximately 4,000 Kalash people. Interestingly, they claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great. The Kalash are connected to the rest of Pakistan by a single road and don’t have phone service.


The Coldest People On Earth


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The Yakuts are an ethnic group living in Yakutsk, Russia. With winter temperatures reaching minus 40 C to minus 43 C, Yakutsk is the coldest city in the world. Miraculously and baffling to the rest of the world, the fish market is open 7 days a week. Most sellers spend eight hours a day at their stall in the market with frozen temperatures.



Lip Plate


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Suri women have their lower incisors knocked out and their lower lips pierced and stretched until it can hold a clay plate. As a result, women speak a little differently than men. No one is really sure why the Suri do this. One theory suggests that it was to discourage slavers from stealing women. Interestingly, many tribal people practice lip plates. The woman in this photograph is probably Kayapo or Mekranoti; she was on show at the zoo in Paris in the 1930s. Other tribes who use lip plates are the Surma and Mursi people of Ethiopia, the Sara women of Chad, the Makonde of Tanzania and Mozambique, the Suyá men of Brazil, and many more.