This archive is intended to serve as a brief and very general introduction to each and every Indigenous Nation we've written about, here at Intercontinental Cry. In effect, these Nations represent the frontline of the world-wide movement to defend the earth.
Please Note: This archive is a work in progress. There are still many profiles that need to be written (in several cases, there is no information available on the internet, and what information is available is extremely biased). If you would like to help us finish the archive or if you want to have your Nation added to the list, please get in touch with us.
The Akie are an ethnically and linguistically distinct Indigenous people predominantly living In Tanzania's vast Northern plains. In 2000 this group had a registered population of 5,268. The Akie are also known by the name Mosiro or as members of the Dorobo, an umbrella term for Indigenous groups hailing from Kenya and Tanzania. Locally they are known to the Maasai by the derogatory term 'Iltorobo'- meaning 'one without cattle.'
The Akie speak a Kalenjin dialect, part of the Niltoic group of languages. Their particular dialect suggests a relationship to Northern Kenyan tribes such as The Okiek, this has led to speculation about The Akie's historical migrations as the linguistic evidence would suggest that they moved southwards into Tanzania at some point.
With this move seems to have come a change in subsistence strategies. If they did indeed migrate southward in the past The Akie probably led a semi-nomadic existence practicing animal husbandry like the Maasai and other Doroban groups who keep cattle. However they are now Hunter Gatherers and small scale cultivators. The Akie are an example of the phenomena of groups returning to supposedly more 'primitive' strategies. This has proved an important factor in the 'Revisionist debate', helping to challenge notions that people like the Akie are backward rather than optimally adapted to their 'new' environment.
More recently The Akie's lifeways have changed once again. It has been ascertained that, post migration, they used to live in definite clan territories relating to notions of ancestral ownership and also to family access to resources such as Baobab and honey by family groups. Animals were however, free to be hunted by anyone revealing the openness of boundaries, probably necessary with regards to the harsh environment and variable rainfall. Today though The Akie's territory has decreased dramatically due to agricultural concessions, poaching and Maasai encroachment. This has limited Akie mobility and forced them into more permanent settlement and heavier reliance on cultivating crops such as Maize, however, as these crops are not reliable The Akie retain a great deal of knowledge of the flora and fauna of their home land.
The Akie are well known for their prowess as hunter gatherers. Chief amongst their impressive armory of skills is the symbiotic relationship they maintain with the Greater Honeyguide bird which they call to and subsequently follow in order to find honey which is of great social value to the group. After then climbing gargantuan trees, pacifying the bees all using only vine, axe and smoke the hunters leave a little honey and comb for the bird to ensure this special relationship continues.
Though they are commonly described by their Tanzanian countrymen as backward The Akie are fighting hard to maintain their traditional practices and the special link they have with their lands and environment they continue to rely on.
Most widely known by the name Apache (a word derived from the Zuni 'Apachu', meaning enemy) this name refers to a group of culturally related Native Americans. The Apache know themselves by the names Tineh, Dini, Inde, Deman and Haisndayin. Despite this, the monkier Apache has stuck in the minds of most and refers on the behalf of the Zuni to the famed ferocity and pride of this group.
Traditionally the Apache dwelt in the 'South West Culture Area' spanning a number of US states such as Texas and Colorado as well as parts of Mexico. Originally they would have spoken related Southern Athabaskan languages forming seven different language groups relating to geographical area. However, since the settlement of Indian populations into reservations linguistic cultures have merged and encountered the ubiquity of the American-English language leading to the breakdown of this classification. All seven Athabaskan languages are listed as endangered and Lipan is thought to be near extinct.
Evidence for the subsistence strategies of the Apache can be found early in their history as it is suggested that these groups were nomadic hunter gatherers, migrating southwards from other Athapascan groups speaking similar languages and operating some similar lifeways in Canada. Later some Apache took up some level of agriculture if they had come into contact with others using this strategy, however this was by no means a given as different Apache groups had quite distinct histories of migration, the Jicarilla Apache for example instead stole horses to hunt Buffalo on the Plains. Largely groups operated mixed economies utilising a number of physical and intellectual resources.
Though subsistence strategies may have remained diverse amongst the Apache, their reputation as fearsome warriors was far more ubiquitous. This was experienced by those Indian and settler farmers whom the Apache encountered and raided along their migratory route but was most spectacularly displayed post contact with Spanish, Mexican and American adversaries. Not only did the Apache hold off the Spanish and Mexicans advances, they repeatedly raided their colonial outposts during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Furthermore, perhaps the most enduring accounts of the Apache's bravery and skill come from the Apache Wars of the nineteenth century when they fought for their independence from US rule. Out of these conflicts came the compelling tales of Geronimo and Victorio who escaped reservations and mounted what proved to be acts of final resistance to their subjugation, and acting as a testament to the overwhelmed but freedom loving and proud Apache Nation. Geronimo embodied this spirit and the tragedy of the fate suffered by so many Native American groups when, upon his capture he remarked, “Once I moved about like the wind. Now I surrender to you and that is all.”
Away from the battlefield The Apache were also renowned basket weavers and crafts people, making brightly beaded clothing and adorning much that they owned. In addition they are notable for their musical traditions, most specifically for their playing of the Apache fiddle, Tsii edo'a'tl - 'wood that sings.'
Today man Apache still live on the original reservations designated to them in their old territiories, for example, the Fort McDowell reservation is still shared by the Mojave and Yavapai of Maricopa County. The Apache are now involved in the US cash economy and earn a living mostly through tribal enterprises such as tourism, saw mills, crafts and Casinos. They face many challenges and like other First Nations are engaged in a constant struggle to protect their lands and culture which have been sadly diminished already. One recent example is the Apache nations staunch opposition to Resolution Copper's mining project in South East Arizona which willfully endangers the Oak Flat and Apache Leap Sacred sites which are important burial grounds and campsites. The Apache fight goes on and they face it with the same resolve shown by some of their most esteemed ancestors.
Not to be confused with the Avars of the Thirteenth Century with military repute, this ethnically mixed group of largely assimilated peoples resides in the North Caucasus between the Black and Caspian seas. Most live in ancient villages located in Dagestan but smaller populations also exist in Chechnya, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The total Avar population stands at around 1.04 million and the majority speak a dialect called Maharul Mac'- 'The language of the mountains,' belonging to the Avar-Andic language family. There are around 1.4 million speakers worldwide, again largely in Dagestan but also in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
The history of the Avars is a proud but in many ways a tragic one exhibiting hardships suffered by many of the worlds indigenous peoples. First mentioned in 463AD by the Roman diplomat Priscus the Avars appear to have undertaken a migration from an area near the Arral sea to the Caucasus where they established a Christian state in the Dagestani highlands where many Avars live to this day. During the 1800's, under high taxation stress and the ever present problem of land dispossession, in this case at the hands of the Russian state, the Avars mobilised to fight in the Caucasian War as the Imamate of Dagestan, resisting Russia's southward expansion. Though defeat in 1864 was harsher on the indigenous Circassians who suffered an ethnic purge as a result of the war, the Avars suffered nonetheless. Many migrated to the Ottoman empire rather than remain in Dagestan. Some did remain in the highlands only to be forced to migrate to the shores of the Caspian sea post World War Two by the Soviet government. This move had drastic consequences. Those of the Avar who had had to leave their highland homes were exposed to novel diseases such as Typhoid and Malaria not encountered at the altitudes the Avar had previously lived at, mortality rates increased greatly.
Today the Avar suffer from a lack of coverage of the issues that threaten their culture and very existence. For example, they are currently at risk of being forcibly assimilated into Azerbaijani society as a result of a discriminatory government policy aimed at achieving this goal. There is some hope however, supplied by the upcoming conference for the 'Indigenous peoples of the Caucasus and Caspian region.' (5-7 October, 2012) Which could successfully deliver the rights the Avar and neighbouring groups require to ensure their own autonomy and well-being.
Known as the Babongo, Bongo, “Forest people” or as Pygmies this indigenous people inhabit the rainforest of Gabon in West Africa and have an estimated population of around twelve thousand people.
There is no one Babongo language as groups speak three main dialects depending on region. In the central regions variations of Tsogho are spoken, in the South East it is the same but with Teke and Kaning'i as the starting languages. Interpretations of these vary between groups dependent on historical and cultural differences such as contact with Bantu speaking neighbours.
As far as it is possible to tell the Babongo have always been hunter gatherers living in bands of up to twenty people, a situation suiting a traditionally nomadic lifestyle in a bio-diverse environment. Some Babongo, those from Lastoursville and Lebamba, are famed for using nets in their hunting activities, snaring bush meat to complement the plant stuffs provided by Babongo women and their encyclopedic knowledge of rainforest flora. As well as hunting and gathering. the Babongo have historically traded with Bantu farmers exchanging forest goods such as honey and meat for metal tools and guns to aid them in their hunting. Though in some respects this relationships has proved advantageous for the Babongo it has also left them open to exploitation at the hands of the Bantu as a recent UNICEF report shows.
The Bantu often do not share the Babongo's positive view of themselves as the first people of the earth, yet they are often fearful of them. The Babongo are renowned sorcerers and boast a vibrant animistic tradition called 'Bwiti' which centres around the use of the hallucinogenic Iboga plant which some Bwiti experts believe to be the tree of knowledge. According to the Babongo Iboga can facilitate soothsaying, healing, and communion with the dead by liberating the soul of the body for a time.
In light of this many Bantu do not wish to cross the Babongo but unfortunately the same cannot be said for others who today threaten the physical and cultural continuance of the Babongo. Commercial logging is rapidly depleting Gabon's rainforest with thirty percent already cleared. As a result of the vast roads bulldozed through the forest many Babongo have experienced the traditionally damaging effects of contact with the outside world, disease, violence and governmentality. Mortality rates have risen as the result of the first two of these results of deforestation whilst the governmental contribution has been to begin a resettlement programme to move the Babongo to villages beside the roads flayed from the forest. Here, considered as the backward remnant of Gabonese society, the Babongo suffer discrimination in the form of pitiful levels of access to healthcare and education.
Despite the threat of assimilation there are hopes that the Babongo have a brighter future than the negative developments of recent years may suggest. Logging is being rapidly restricted as national parks are established across the country to encourage eco-tourism. In tandem efforts are being made to enable the Babongo to take their future into their own hands given this potentially beneficial transition. One way in which this is being attempted is through the innovative grassroots use of Participatory mapping technologies which have allowed some Babongo groups to commune and mark out their traditional territories, safe guarding them for future generations.
The Bakola-Bagyeli, also referred to by the generic name Pygmy, live predominantly in the tropical forests of Southern Cameroon.
The population of around 3,700 have a mixed subsistence economy which incorporates hunting gathering and cultivation into daily life. In the past this would have meant the Bakola-Bagyeli moving around occasionally but as the group have come into greater contact with a cash economy agriculture has become more important to secure an income and groups are now thought to be more sedentary.
Unfortunately the Bakola-Bagyeli have suffered a recent history of persecution in their home country and from foreign agents. Viewed as backward they have suffered from government and neighbouring Bantu groups attempts to settle them by highways and impose development. One particular issue which has had a negative impact on the Bakola-Bagyeli's struggle to protect their culture is the ID cards required under Cameroonian law. Most cannot afford these and without them access to the justice system and other public services is severely curtailed.
Recently issues of this peoples marginalisation have been epitomised by their fight against an oil pipeline running through their lands. Despite plans for compensation being in place at the UN's insistence due to a lack of ID cards the World Bank failed to properly distribute it and much fell into the hands of Bantu who, with ID cards, 'captured' the funds.
However there is cause for the Bakola-Bagyeli to be optimisitic and to strive for a recognised and autonomous future. Despite initial problems and exclusion they have now been allowed access to hunt and gather in the Campo Ma'an national park and using participatory mapping techniques alongside other 'Pygmy' groups have been able to lay a claim to their own territories as they, not others, see them. Their fight to survive continues.
The Bedzang are also known as the Tikar and generically as a Pygmy people. They live predominantly in the Ngambe-Tikar region of Central Cameroon and their population is thought to be very small with estimates as low as 1,000.
In this region a number of languages are spoken including Twumwu, Badogo and others; but the Bedzang instead speak Tikar which is a Bantu language. This has led some to know them as Tikar; but they are in fact a distinct group.
Traditionally the Bedzang were semi-nomadic hunter gatherers; but in recent times, with threats posed to their traditional land rights, they are becoming increasingly sedentary. This is a common feature amongst Cameroon's 'Pygmy' peoples. The Bedzang have practiced small scale farming for generations now due to these changes and their main cash crops include coffee and cocoa. However, they are often unable achieve a good price for these products and to trade fairly in their local and global market systems. Furthermore, their livelihoods themselves continue to be threatened by logging concessions on or close to their lands. In the absence fair market participation and an outside respect for Bedzang lands their culture, language and existence remains at risk.
Cashinahua or Kashinawa (Kash- 'bat' or 'cannibal', nawa- 'outsiders') is the name commonly given to this group by other indigenous peoples living in Brazil and Peru along the waters of the Curanja and Purus rivers. However, their self designated name is Huni Kuin which means 'real people'. The Huni Kuin speak hancha kuin - 'real words', a Panoan language, in the number of small settlements in which they live. Two thirds of Huni Kuin live in Brazil, mostly in Acre and the South of Amazonas state whilst a third hail from Peru, predominantly the state of Coronel Portillo. Population estimates vary greatly and taking both countries into account estimates range from 2,400 to 7,500.*
The Huni Kuin have a mixed subsistence economy that consists of hunting, fishing and gathering to supplement staples of Manioc and Plantain which they grow using swidden agricultural techniques. Villages, Mae kuin, are the main productive units and consist of a few extended families grouped matrilocally. However, despite the village autonomy, all Huni Kuin consider themselves bound to all others by the same name. They are known for their use of the powerfully hallucinogenic Liana plant and also as great artists, painting themselves and adorning many objects with designs and motifs of Kene Kuin- 'true design.'
The Huni Kuin's history since first contact has involved a great deal of hardship. Many were forced to migrate from their original home on the Envira river's three affluents as early as the turn of the Twentieth Century, pressured and sometimes massacred by Brazilian rubber extractors in acts of organized violence to destroy 'wild' indians. The relationship between the Huni Kuin and forest prospectors seemed to improve in some cases around the 1940s when some began to seek contact and to offer their services working lumber and wild rubber. Unfortunately, poor treatment undermined this harmony and they broke off relations once more. Some Huni Kuin who were 'tamed' still bear the brands of their former 'owners' and today the real people still question their own logic in seeking contact. A handful became independent rubber trader or livestock owners for a time but most are no longer involved. Distrust for outsiders was further enhanced when the 1951 visit of an ethnographer was followed by a disease epidemic, wiping out a huge proportion of the population. Some groups did choose and maintain isolation from contact.
Today most still live in the villages they migrated to; though some have moved to cities such as Santa Rosa in Brazil. Alongside their traditional lifeways which the Huni Kuin staunchly defend they sell artifacts and forest goods to earn money and Western culture has been accepted in some forms. It is not uncommon to see the Huni Kuin use Western boats, tools or wear Western clothing. Brazilian groups tend to have been more greatly influenced in this respect.
Chin, meaning fellow or friend, is one of a number of names of this large indigenous group. Others include Kuki, Hkyang Iu, Myui and Chin-Kuki-Mizo. The Chin are Burma's largest indigenous population, living mostly in the country's Chin State. Chin groups also inhabit areas of India, especially Mizoram, and Bangladesh. These various Chin groups speak as many as forty nine variations of the Kukish language. The largest Chin population is based in Burma and stands at an estimated 1.5 million people.
It is thought that the Chin migrated to Burma in the late Ninth Century before moving west to establish what is now the Chin State. There are many groups amongst the Chin, hence the collective name Chin-Kuki-Mizo, and a great deal of diversity in situation and practice; however most were and continue to be agriculturalists growing rice, corn and millet as staples and saleable goods.
Some attempts have been made to unify the various Chin groups in the past. One successful example is the establishment of the Mizoram State in India as a result of the collective Mizo National Movement which called on the Chin to unite under their common linguistic and ethnic roots. However, today differences and diversity remain and have grown, for example in the field of belief. The Chin were once animists but due to British colonialism most are Christian whilst others practice a range of faiths from Theravada Buddhism to Judaism. One particular group of Chin claims to be a lost tribe of Israel, the Bnei Menashe, some of whom have been settled in Israel.
In recent times the Chin have labelled themselves a forgotten people in Burma. Subjected to numerous abuses there at the hands of the brutal SPDC government and the Tatmadaw, many Chin have fled the country and become refugees. Yet the Chin often find that this transition is one similarly plagued by torture, extortion and unfair retention, sometimes at the hands of their own forces. The Chin National Front and The Chin Army have both been implicated in human rights abuses of their own people. For those who have successfully fled Burma life as a refugee can be hard, in Mizoram State they struggle for recognition and protection, constantly facing deportation alongside the challenges of malnutrition and religious repression. In the USA Chin migrants are amongst the poorest and suffer a great deal from alcohol and tobacco abuse, severely affecting the populations health.
These struggles continue today and many Chin make the long march to New Delhi to gain full refugee recognition, with around a thousand able to achieve this and passage to a third country. However with the radical transitions in Burma, including the founding of a democratically elected government, there is hope that the abuses felt by the Chin in their homeland will abate, stemming the exodus and the problems it has brought the Chin.
The Culina, whose self chosen name is Madija - 'Those who are people' - are an indigenous group living in five territories on the Brazil-Peru border. These territories are all recognized indigenous lands which the Madija share with groups such as the Huni Kuin, Yaminawa and others and centre around the Jurua and Purus rivers, tributaries of the Amazon.
One of the most numerous indigenous groups in this area, figures from the turn of the millennium estimate the Madija population to be around three thousand, with the majority living in Brazil. The Madija speak a highly variable language known as Culina Madiha, of the Arawa linguistic family. It is of great interest to linguists and lexicographers as the male and female dialects are quite distinct and women speak versions of Culina Madiha almost exclusive to their own village.
The Madija are especially well known for two aspects of their culture. First is that their cosmological, social and physical words revolve around a central axis, the principle of reciprocity. The structure of the universe, made up of sky (Meme), Earth (Nami) and the world below (Nami budi) is echoed in the Madija's physical living arrangements. Reciprocity also governs their social relationships where the ideal is a cyclical continuation of a sharing system by which the Madija live by giving and gaining sustenance from one another. The second outstanding feature the Madija are known for is their use of music, which is also profoundly social. Young men play flutes to send love messages, the intended recipient is know to all and so the sound of the flute allows the whole community to share acollectively amorous experience. Madija women are know to sing almost all day and music and song are thought to evoke all worlds, expressing the whole.
The Madija operate similar subsistence strategies to other groups in the area, they have a mixed economy and hunt, gather, fish and keep pigs. They have traded with the outside world during various times in their history, beginning with commercial plant traders from whom they purchased industrial products in return for forest goods. However relations werenot always as amicable as reported in these cases. WIth the dawn of the rubber boom came the Madija's first concerted contact with Whites, Brazilian rubber extractors and Peruvian Cacheiros. The Madija were subjected to repeated violent incursions, 'correiras', from these strangers, taken as slaves whilst fleeing to more inaccessible parts of the forest. After forced contact for a long period, an alliance with the Huni Kuin (Cashinahua) in 1984 allowed the demarcation of the Alto Purus region as indigenous land , a move later formalized by FUNAI.
Further lands have since been claimed in nearby areas such as the Humaita river zone and in the area of The Pau Stream and legal ownership established. Despite this the Madija still suffer illegal incursions by ranchers, poachers and loggers but remain committed to expelling these raiders, continuing their traditional practices and finding a long term solution to ceasing unwanted and illegal contact.
The Miskito (Misquito, Misqito) live in an area that stretches along the Mosquito coast from Cape Camaron, Honduras to Rio Grande, Nicaragua. With a population of as many as 200,000 people they are a numerous indigenous group compared to many. The majority of the populus, some 180,000, speak Miskito, a Misumalpan language. Spanish and Creole English are also relatively widely spoken, mainly as second languages.
Historically, the Miskito operated a mixed subsistence economy of hunting, gathering, fishing and gardening. They were particularly known for their fishing skills.
Today the Miskito remain remain connected to their maritime roots, being heavily involved in the lobster export industry. Many other subsistence activities of the Miskito have now become similarly commercially focused; many men join migrant labour forces and women assume full responsibility for household economic decisions and ownership.
Miskito history is spattered with conflict and contact with both seemingly benevolent and openly aggressive foreigners. First contact was established with Northern European privateers, who's ships wrecking led to the mixing of some Miskito groups with the slaves who were freed by the wreckage and came to shore. Miskito groups who mixed with African ex-slaves became known as Miskitos Zambos. Later, a relationship of sorts was struck with the British resulting in an informal trade agreement which saw the Miskitos protected from the Spaniards through the establishment of a Miskito kingdom which became a British protectorate. Until 1894 a degree of autonomy was kept; but in this year the Miskito kingdom was assimilated into the state of Nicaragua. Resistance proved unsuccessful and by this time many Miskito had adopted Christianity and European names and dress.
In more recent times, the Miskito have fought against state intervention and unfair land expropriation. In the 1980's Miskito guerrilla bands formed. Popularly known as contras, they fought the left wing Sandinista Junta of Nicaragua which sought to dispossess and disempower the Miskito. They suffered massacres and many fled to neighbouring Honduras but their fight alongside others was ultimately successful. In 1992, with the Sandinista Junta defeated, security zones were created.
The Miskito are now striving for further autonomy, announcing the independence of The Community Nation Of Moskitia from Nicaragua in 2009. As yet there has been no formal global or Nicaraguan response to this declaration.
Visit the Navajo Nations official site by clicking HERE.Adapted from Wikipedia's article on the Navajo People
The Zuni or A:shiwi (as the Zuni refer to themselves, in their own language) are one of the Pueblo peoples, most of whom live in the Pueblo of Zuni on the Zuni River, a tributary of the Little Colorado River, in western New Mexico, United States.
According to the 2000 Census, there were approximately 7,790 people in the zip code of the Zuni reservation, with 7619 living in either the statistical areas of Zuni or Blackrock. Tribal estimates for the entire reservation run from 10,000 to 12,000. with over 80% being Native Americans, with 43.0% of the population below the poverty line as defined by the U.S. income standards.
The Zuni, like other Pueblo peoples, are believed to be the descendants of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples who lived in the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and southern Colorado for centuries. Archaeological evidence shows they have lived in their present location for about 1300 years. However, before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Zuni lived in six different villages. After the revolt, until 1692, they took refuge in a defensible position atop Dowa Yalanne, a steep mesa 5 km (3.1miles) southeast of the present Pueblo of Zuni; "Dowa" means "corn", and "yalanne" means "mountain." After the establishment of peace and the return of the Spanish, the Zuni relocated to their present location, only briefly returning to the mesa top in 1703.
In 1539, a Spanish exploratory party guided by the Moorish slave Estevanico arrived, though the villagers eventually killed him. This was Spain's first contact with any of the Pueblo peoples.
Zuni traditionally speak the Zuni language, a unique language (also called an "isolate") which is unrelated to any other Native American language. The Zuni continue to practice their traditional religion with its regular ceremonies and dances and an independent and unique belief system.