Five of the World’s Most Isolated Civilizations
Number 5 – The Yana People
Ishi emerged from the trees near Oroville, California in 1911, he was discovered to be the last of the Yana people of California, the last Native American surviving into modern times and living most of his life completely outside of European or American culture. When asked his name, he said “I have none, because there were no people to name me” He soon became known as “Ishi”, which means ‘man’ in Yana.
Ishi and his family were victims of the Three Knolls Massacre, the surviving Yana were subsequently wiped out by cattlemen and thought to be gone, until Isihi appeared in Oroville some 40 years later.
Upon appearing, he was taken into police custody for his own protection, later moved to University of California, Berkeley, where he befriended Saxton Pope, a physician that was called to care for him. Ishi taught Pope how to make arrowheads and bows, and the two hunted together in the mountains of California. Ishi traditionally used obsidian for his arrowheads, although he also began using the bottoms of beer bottles when making arrowheads for the public.
An honorary archery tournament is still held today in Oroville, dubbed the “Ishi Tournament”
Number 4 – The Surma
The Surma live in an ultra-remote part of the bottom west corner of Ethiopia, close to the border of Sudan. They occupy a 45 square km area known as Surmaland. The area is staggering in its natural beauty, often referred to as the “African Tibet”, and the border of Surmaland, according to folk song, is referred to as ‘the end of the universe’.
Traditional life hasn’t changed much for the Surma, who’s last contact with Europeans were when the Russians showed up with an anti-polio vaccine some 40 years ago. “Many moons ago, pale skinned people arrived with aircraft and brought medicine” says the chief of the Kangini Village.
Disputes in the village are still settled by “dunga’ battles, basically a fight with sticks held vertically overhead to strike, you are forbidden to use the stick as a bayonet and you can’t hold it horizontally. If you kill your opponent, one of your female relatives is given to the dead man’s family as compensation.
Number 3 – The Ruc people of Vietnam.
The Ruc were first discovered by North Vietnamese soliders during the Vietnam War, they still live in caves in the eastern Quang Binh province. The Ruc utilize an elaborate system of caves, spanning some 60,000 meters throughout 17 separate areas. Many chambers in the system are unexplored even today, with locations only known by the elders of the Ruc Tribe. Since the discovery, the Vietnamese government has made many attempts to relocate them.
Number 2 – The Pintupi
Inhabiting a very remote part of the Gibson Desert in Western Austrailia, the Pintupi were the last aboriginal tribe to encounter people form European- Australian society. The last members of this tribe to give up their traditional desert lifestyle in 1984 were known as the Pintupi Nine. The Pintupi lived the same lifestyle for thousands of years, practicing a unique bond with the outback, and a tradition that includes mythological references to ’shapeshifting’.
Number 1 – The Sentinelese
The last on our list is a group of people living on a small island off India, located in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Islands, North Sentinel Island could be technically considered part of India. However, the association ends there. Any attempt to contact the tribe is given cold reception. A group of Russians doing a land survey flew a helicopter over the island, only to be met with a barrage of arrows.
Its difficult to get accurate figures, but it is believed that the Sentinelese number around 300 people. Experts says they have probably lived on that island for 60,000 years, and are directly descended from the first humans to ever leave Africa. Their language suggests they have been uncontacted for thousands of years, and India as well has recently abandoned attempts to make contact. They are thus, generally thought to be the most isolated society in the world.
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