It is sad to watch a person dying, a life-ending. And it is more lamentable to see a group or tribe going extinct. With increased globalization, the world has become more interconnected. Due to the increased regional integration, several indigenous tribal groups around the world are on the verge of extinction. The ancient tribes listed here are on the brink of extinction; only time will tell when.
Living near the Coachella Valley in Southern California, for over three thousand years, the ancient Cahuilla people have managed to survive diseases, persecutions, even the gold rush. They are said to have settled in thousand, around the time when the prehistoric Lake Cahuilla still existed. Now only three thousand of them are left. They have managed to lose their language, a unique blend of Aztec and Ute language, now spoken only by a handful of people. Anyhow, in recent years attempts are being made to keep their traditional ‘bird song’ alive by passing them on to the younger generation. Yet the endeavors to keep the traditional lifestyle of the Cahuilla people alive seems like a losing battle.
El Molo (Kenya)
The term El Molo means ‘those who make their living from other than cattle’. This ancient tribe is the smallest of its kind in Kenya and are faced with constant unending threats of extinction. Residing on the remote shores of Lake Turkana which is evaporating too rapidly, the El Molo people are at a state of peril because they solely depend on the lake for food. The lake is increasingly becoming contaminated which has forced them to catch fishes from crocodile-infested water bodies. Other than this, they also compete with rival groups and even suffer cholera outbreaks once a while, which has so far taken a large toll of aged as well as young lives. With an average life expectancy of only 30 to 45 years-of-age and only 200 of the population left, living under the looming threats of cholera and insufficient food, the El Molo tribe is not expected to last long.
This Mongolian tribe are reindeer herders. They take pride in the land they live in and worship the snow forest. Living in a cold mountainous region, they rely heavily on reindeers for transportation, meat, milk, and cheese. This fascinating group of people are very friendly towards foreigners and tourist. Today, with less than three hundred surviving Dukhan, their traditional lifestyle is rapidly deteriorating. Excess hunting and gold mining have sent this group the edge. And since young Dukhan has begun embracing the modern technology-based city life, the traditional culture of this Mongolian herders will, in time, cease to exist.
The Spinifex (Australia)
The Spinifex (Pila Nguru) are the indigenous inhabitants of the Great Victoria Desert. They have been living there for over fifteen thousand years. Even after the Europeans came over and settled in Australia, the Spinifex people went on living unharmed. The desert is particularly harsh terrain, useless from every aspect except for one – nuclear testing. During the 1950s the government began nuclear testing, forcing the Spinifex people to relocate. It was only around the late 1980s that they began retreating to their homeland. But they were faced with land acquisition issues, which was solved in their favor, thanks to their indigenous artwork that records their deep ancient relationship with their land. In 1997 the Spinifex people received the Native Title Claim. But the sad truth is, that many of the Spinifex did not return to their native land and no one knows where they are residing now. With, one of the largest Spinifex groups comprising of only 150 to 250 people, the existence of this group, in the future seems quite dim.
The People Of Takuu Atoll (Polynesia)
The people of Takuu Atoll like living marooned, without any contact from the outside world, because they are exceedingly protective of their culture. For some 40 years, they had clamped a ban of missionaries. They are jolly people who are known to spend most of their time, around 20 to 30 hours a week, partying hard. Seriously! They have over a thousand songs and with only around four hundred people they spend their lives happily dancing and singing away. Unfortunately, the sea is creeping on their land and soon all their lands would be underwater. To resist the rising seawater they had built walls but with the world becoming hotter every passing day, sea-wall is ineffective. Already their sources of freshwater have become contaminated by seawater. Unable to grow crops and lead their traditional lives, the people of Takuu Atoll are discussing permanent relocation.
They live in the Pakistani mountains and have blonde hair and blue eyes. These people with sharply distinctive features claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great’s army who had settled there centuries ago. DNA tests conducted on them have revealed European blood infusion from the time of Alexander’s conquests. So their story seems to be true. Not only their physical appearances but over the years, they have developed a distinct culture where women are allowed more freedom, wine is a common drink and cloths are brightly colorful. Moreover, they believe in the existence of more than one god and even have their own traditional folklore. But their population is dwindling – the result of persecution by Muslims in an attempt to convert the Kalash people to Islam. In recent times, only four to six thousand Kalash people are alive.
Though classified as Negritos, the Andamanese are called pygmies due to their short stature. They live on the Andaman Island. The men are an average of 4ft 11 inches tall and the woman suffers steatopygia – an extreme accumulation of fat in the buttock. In fact, the Andamanese women are the only people to display this tendency outside Africa. This group has been living in isolation for a long time and until the 19th century, they didn’t even know how to create fire. Like the Batak, the Andamanese are one of the first groups to have left Africa. There are several Andamanese groups scattered about. Some of them like the Sentinelese live in complete isolation so, not much is known about them. In 2010, the last surviving man, 85 years old, of one Andamanese group named Bo, died. Other groups are severely threatened by land occupations, tourists, diseases et al. Today only four to five hundred Andamanese are said to be left.