The Amazon Rainforest is home to many native tribes. Some of them have never been contacted by other humans, and they live just as they would have done thousands of years ago.
Firstly, here’s a video that shows an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon Forest, and gives you a really good introduction to tribal life in the rainforest:
Let’s discover some of those tribes, and understand how they live.
Who Are The Amazonian Tribes?
The Amazon is home to hundreds of ethnic groups that have never made direct contact with the outside world. Some are nomads, others live in villages or towns and cultivate crops.
Many languages are still spoken there because they seem to be unique to this part of the planet. These cultures live in isolation, but not for lack of trying on our part … Their communities are very spread out and reserves can only be reached by plane.
Tribes living in Brazil make up 44% of these isolated populations around the world (the largest percentage). So much so that until now, it has been difficult to quantify their number precisely. Isolated tribes are found in the five countries that form the Amazon basin: Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil.
Indigenous tribes are people who were already living on their land when it was discovered by explorers from other countries. For centuries they have resisted all attempts at contact with the outside world.
The Yanomamo People
The Yanomamo are an Amazonian tribe of Southern Venezuela and Northern Brazil living in the Amazon rainforest. They are known for their fierce fighting skills, physical strength, and their strong spirit.
Firstly, let’s have a look at this really cool video about the Yanomamo People and how they live:
The Yanomamo language is quite different from most other languages in the region. They call themselves “Yanomami”. According to anthropology, this people separated from other groups about 2 thousand years ago. In war, they set out together to hunt animals for food and only then go back home again.
In general, they live in villages of 20-30 houses where all families share a central area. Having a lot of children is not a disadvantage but a source of pride – each woman has an average of 10 children. When it’s time to plant crops, everyone works together except pregnant women who have special
These people build their homes from materials found in nature.
Although there is a lot of diversity in architecture styles among different tribes, most of their dwellings resemble a beehive shape made up of palm leaves overlapping each other. The building process usually involves men working together while women collect food or look after children nearby. On rainy days they make a fire in the center of their homes to keep them warm.
The Yanomamo live from what they can obtain from their environment by hunting, fishing and gathering.
Hunting involves going out in large groups of men who use bows and arrows. The groups usually leave when it is still nighttime or very early in the morning to return only once the sun is high up in the sky.
In these expeditions sometimes children are allowed to come along too even though they’re not allowed to carry weapons. All hunters go out barefoot because this makes them lighter on their feet so they don’t hurt themselves while walking on branches or thin lianas hanging across rivers or swamps.
The adult men wear a loincloth in addition to feathers in their hair. They paint themselves with ochre red dye which is found in termite mounds. The color indicates who’s the leader of the group.
When they’re hunting for monkeys, parrots, or fish, the Yanomamo use arrows tipped with poisoned tips made from ebony trees. The poison is prepared very carefully because it has to be mixed with other components so it doesn’t spoil too fast when exposed to humid weather conditions.
The tribes use poisons when fishing as well.
They usually mix the poison into small balls that are dipped into the water where fish swim through them and then die soon afterward. Some days after making this poisonous bait, they go back to the same spot to fish for them. They usually use canoes made out of hollowed tree trunks and tied together with vines.
They collect honey and fresh water
To get fresh water, they drill holes into trees that are located high up on the mountains. To do this, they use an axe crafted from stone which is thrown with precision using a long stick called taki taki. The impact triggers the release of sap which flows down through the ax hole. This sticky liquid is caught in containers where it dries up turning into a sweet-tasting candy. Sometimes they collect honey too – it tastes very good especially mixed with cassava pulp or berries.
They grow their own crops
They grow corn, bananas, manioc, peanuts, pumpkin, pineapples and cotton. They usually plant bananas when they need an immediate source of food
They are great artists
They make very simple tools out of stones that are sharpened in the shape of a cone. This is done with great awareness because if not cut properly they become unusable very soon. The women use these stone drops to decorate their faces and arms which is often accompanied by chewing betel nuts.
We might think of them as cruel
The Yanomamo are known for their cruelty – they kill other people or kidnap them instead of negotiating peaceful solutions to conflicts. Their culture includes rituals like arranged marriages between families where children are given away at birth (usually one boy per family, one girl per family). This might be the reason why there is no other group in the area that is larger than 200 members.
Why do they kill each other?
One explanation for this could be that their circumstances force them to adopt a life of war to defend themselves against attacks.
Another theory is that Europeans made contact with Indians during an era when entire populations were being wiped out by diseases that previously didn’t exist like smallpox and measles. The Yanomamo weren’t equipped to deal with these sicknesses because they never experienced them before (it was thought that disease came from the gods).
The Kayapo People
Kayapi villages are hidden deep in the forest where there is no one to bother them. The Yanomamo people barely ever go there because they think it’s dangerous. The Kayapi live alone and stay secluded from all other neighboring tribes. This makes it possible for them to preserve their culture and way of life.
This warrior tribe has never been conquered by anyone because even though they don’t have many weapons like bows and arrows, they’re very brave and fearless warriors who will fight to the death defending their land (and any women that happen to be around). The Kayapi use blowpipes outfitted with poison darts as well as wooden clubs tipped with poison drilled from trees.
They do, however, use video! They don’t want people coming, so they created a video to show how they live, so that nobody would want to create their own. What a cool idea!
How do they survive?
The Kayapi cultivate very small amounts of land which is enough to feed themselves and their families. They also hunt for food because there are many animals in the jungle such as monkeys, wild boars, armadillos and other rodents.
They use Brazilwood for shelter
They build their villages on the outskirts of the rainforest where it’s easy to find brazilwood – a type of wood that they burn constantly because it produces smoke that keeps bugs away. These wooden huts have straw roofs which protect them from rain.
They are naked except for….
They’re naked except for some feathers , seeds or animal teeth tied around their necks. Some tribes wear leaves over certain parts of their bodies but never cover up completely withclothes .
They use tools and weapons
The Kayapi use wooden clubs and blowpipes outfitted with poison darts as well as wooden shields to defend themselves if necessary.
They hunt for food in the jungle
They hunt armadillos, monkeys, wild boars, rodents, and other animals that live in the jungle. The Kayapi are skilled hunters because they have no problem avoiding jaguars or caimans that might pose a threat.
They dance the huka huka
Their most popular dance is called “Huka huka” which is performed at night around a bonfire accompanied by very rhythmic music. They sing different tunes depending on whether they’re hunting or celebrating an important event during their lives. The Kayapi also play drums and wooden flutes which they sometimes combine with their songs.
The Kayapi are baptized as Catholics!
They’ve been baptized as Catholics but they still perform traditional ceremonies like the Napeano (an initiation ritual). When someone dies, the family sets up a small hut for people to gather around and pay their respects. The tribe will sit there and talk to the dead person (who is represented by a clay statue) until they’re ready to move on.
Their day-to-day life
The Kayapi sleep in hammocks , they don’t use forks or spoons, and children eat whatever adults do. They also don’t drink beer or any other alcoholic beverages because it’s prohibited in their culture. There are some tribes that have been known to eat human flesh which they get from hunting other people in the jungle.
Their family life
Marriage takes place between a man and a woman. The father of the bride gives his daughter away to her future husband. She doesn’t inherit anything from her parents because she belongs to another family now. Children are taken care of by both parents until they become adults at the age of 25 years old. Then, if they want to get married, they do so with their own families without any help from their parents.
The Kayapi speak their own language which no one else understands. They also use arm signals to communicate.
The Nunak People of the Amazon Rainforest
The Nunak people are one of the oldest Amazonian tribes that inhabit the Amazon rainforest. They’re also known as “the forest people” because they live in isolation and don’t allow visitors to their territories.
Where do they live?
They live deep in Roraima state (Brazil) near the border with Venezuela. Their population is unknown, but there are believed to be around 2500 people currently living in this region.
What do the Nunak People look like?
Their skin color varies from dark brown to black, their hair is black or reddish, and they have brown eyes. They can grow up to 160 cm (5’3″), which makes them shorter than other neighboring indigenous groups.
What are their homes like?
They live in cabins, each one made from three walls and a roof. The floor is always covered with branches and leaves. They use water from the river to drink and bathe. If these tribespeople eat meat it’s because they’ve hunted an animal and got their hands on some meat (there’s no agriculture in this region).
What is their diet like?
These communities don’t have any agricultural practices or domestic animals which means they only eat the food they find in the rainforest such as grubs, monkeys, fruit, frogs, etc. Animals like birds may get eaten by jaguars (who kill them for food) but that depends on how far their territory extends into the forest.
Do they have a Nunak government?
The Nunak don’t have a government or any kind of social hierarchy, but they do have leaders with experience in making decisions. They’ve been known to walk for several days to meet up with other tribes, which indicates they travel wide distances.
What is day-to-day life like for the Nunak people?
The men are the ones who hunt and fish for food, while women collect fruits and gather plants. These communities only leave their homes when it’s absolutely necessary because leaving means exposing themselves to wild animals, disease, etc.
If they need something from another tribe they send someone who knows the language of that tribe so they can communicate. This helps them find what they’re looking for without being attacked by predators on their way back home.
What is family life like for the Nunak people?
The family structure in the Nunak communities is traditional and hierarchical. If a woman gets married she moves to her husband’s home, where she’ll live with his parents and siblings.
The mother-in-law will be her main point of contact for any matters relating to the house or children. Their education is only basic: they learn how to hunt and fish when they’re young. That’s it.
What do they believe?
Beliefs among these groups are mostly focused on practical matters like not doing things that may anger forest spirits (like killing animals). They’re scared of nature and believe that nature is all-powerful. As well as nature, they also consider their ancestors and deceased relatives very important (they believe they watch over them).
Here’s a link to a charity that is trying to protect the Nunak people from extinction: