Weird and Amazing Indigenous People

Ethnic groups are called indigenous people, according to their tribes, cultures, boundaries of territories and the “original inhabitants” of their territory. Indigenous people are also designated by their state according to international lawmaking bodies with variation of terms such as: “Native Americans” ,” Pacific Islander” (USA), “Inuit” Metis “First Nations” (Canada), “Aborigines (Australia), “Hill Tribes (South East Asia), indigenous ethnic minority, “Adivasi (India)”, autonomous (independent judiciary) groups and tribal groups. Madagascar is an island in the continent of Africa. The Congo River basin, south of the Sahara and west of the East African Rift are the main land in Central Africa,  where indigenous Pygmy people are the inhabitants of central and western Africa. East Africa and surrounding countries are included in the “Horn of Africa regions”.

Republic of Madagascar or formerly known as Malagasy Republic, is the fourth-largest island found in Indian Ocean, coast of Africa, southeastern part. Many believed that early settlers between 300 BCE to 500 CE from Austronesian people from Borneo, in the Indonesian Archipelago, Bantu people (crossing Mozambique channels), Arabs, East African, Malays, Javanese (Indonesia),Indians, Chinese and Europeans (most are from France) which is a big influence in the Malagasy cultural way of living.

1) Merina Ethnic Group , Madagascar

Merina people, Indigenous group in Madagascar

The Merina people, a Malagasy speaking ethnic group in Madagascar, are divide society into social classes and caste system, the Andriana (nobles), Hova (freeman) and the Andevo (slaves). Rice  is considered holy (masina), the Merina people and their beliefs of “eating rice” is the key to moral behavior.

Madagascar girls, traditional wedding preparation

Merina woman wearing traditional Lamba

Hira Gasy musicians of Madagascar, wearing lambas

In Madagascar, men and women wear their traditional lamba garment, made of cotton, bast or raffia for their daily wear, and silk during funeral ceremony and some functional used as to carrying their babies and tie them or for wrapping their dead relative. The Betsileo women, wore narrower and white lamba, as symbol for dignity, elegance, femininity and respect for the tradition.

Traditional Malagasy home, Madagascar

The traditional funeral way of the Malagasy, is bring their dead relative into a designated area, and just leave there until the body is decompose, but among the Bara people of the southern plains of Madagascar, they built tombs to bury their dead, and cover it with stones or Zebu bones. While the Tanala ethnic tribes, they place their dead in a coffins made from hollowed-logs and and leave in sacred grove of trees or caves and cover with wooden planks.

Betsileo Tombs, standing stone and burial site

Bara Cave Tomb, early tombs of Malagasy ethnic groups

2)  Bantu Indigenous ethnic groups

Kikuyu woman in Kenya

Congolese woman in DRC

Makua mother and baby, largest indigenous people in Mozambique

Afro-Arab Swahili woman from Zanzibar, wearing Islamic dress or Abaya.

The Bantu Swahili people speak Bantu Swahili language which more Arabic word are used, and these indigenous people are located in the coastal region of East Africa. The Bantu people are mixed community in this area influenced by the Muslim Arabs and Persian migrants.

Zulu indigenous people

Zulu traditional dancer

Herero women, Bantu speaking ethnic groups

The Bantu ethnic group has various groups which means “the people or humans” and “scattered” into hundreds of individual tribes. The word Bantu appeared in many language like in Swahili (watu), Lingala (batu), Duala (Bato), Zulu  and Ganda (Abantu), Shona (Vanhu) and in some Luhya dialects thy call them Vandu. Herero ethnic groups are herdsmen and pastoralist (raising livestock than farming), and majority are living in Namibia, Botswana and Angola.

Shona Indigenous people

Shona witch doctor, Zimbabwe

Shona (Vanhu) indigenous people

The Shona people has two group of indigenous people living in the east and southwest of Zimbabwe, north eastern of Botswana and southern section of Mozambique.

3) Afar Indigenous People

Afar woman of indigenous Nomadic people of the Danakil desert

Afar Nomadic tribe, young girl with headdress

Afar Tribe of Ethiopia, Indigenous people of Ethiopia and Djibouti

The Afar tribe, also called Danakil, an ethnic indigenous people in the Horn of Africa. Majority resides in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, and northern of Djibouti and some lived in southern section of Eritrea.

The State of Eritrea is a country in the Horn of Africa which consists of nine tribes.The capital of Eritrea is Asmara, in the west is the border of Sudan, in the south is Ethiopia and in southwest section is Djibouti.

Tiger Tribe of Eritrea indigenous groups

Saho Tribe, indigenous group in Eritrea

Afar woman with decorative scar on the face as symbol

Eritrea woman with decorative scars

Kunama Ethnic Tribe in Eritrea

Eritrean Wedding

4)  Indigenous People of Horn of Africa (East Africa)

Maasai woman, with traditional earlobe stretching and bead-work

Maasai traditional jumping dance called Adumu

The Maasai ethnic group  or also called Masai, indigenous semi-nomadic people of Kenya and northern Tanzania. The Maasai or Masai people are known for distinctive custom and clothing and reside in many parks of East Africa, to allow tourist to see their heritage. Their wore clothing according to age and place, but require the young Masai to wear black clothing until the day of their circumcision. However, they favored more red clothing, and also wore blue, stripes and checkered as African multicolored designs, which they call their cloth, Matavuvale. In many passage rites, like wedding, the Masai shave their heads, and also the bride too. Only warriors wear long thinly-braided hair. After the warrior go through the Eunoto and became elders, their long braided hair is shaved.

Ngoni Ethnic People

Ngoni ethnic tribe dancing

Ngoni warrior, Tanzania

The Ngoni ethnic tribes are the indigenous people residing in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and east-central Africa.

Berta or Bertha Ethnic Groups

Beta or Bertha ethnic people, playing trumpets

The Berta or Bertha are indigenous people living in the border of Sudan and Ethiopia, and commonly speaks Arabic, because of intermarriages among the ethnic people to Arab traders. Berta people are also called watawit (local name for bat) which means “mixed of different groups”.

Borana or Borana Oromo, or Boran

Borana girl of Kenya

Borana girl of Ethiopia

Gabbra or Gabra Indigenous people

Gabbra people, performing tribal dance, Kenya

Gabbra woman, living in Chalbi desert, Northern Kenya, sharing territory with Borana

North African Indigenous People, Mediterranean border, Northern Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and south of Sahara Desert

Beja Indigenous People

Beja Indigenous People

Beja Indigenous People

Beja Women living in Northeast Sudan near the border

Beja people are the indigenous ethnic group living in North Africa and Horn of Africa, in Sudan, Eritrea and Egypt. Beja consist of smaller families, or group of Bisharin, Hedareb, Hadendoa, Amarar, Beni-Amer, Hallenga and Hamran and mixed of Bedouin clans in the east and Berber tribe in the west.In Roman era the Beja’s are called Blemmyes, a nomadic Nubian tribe, Buga in Aksamite Ge’ez inscriptions and Fuzzy Wuzzy or Hadendoa, a nomadic tribe and subdivided group of the Beja’s clan.

Fuzzy Wuzzy or Hadendoa ethnic Group

African Fuzzy Wuzzy or Hadendoa tribe, notable for their Tiffa hair

Fuzzy Wuzzy ethnic people

Ababda Nomad Ethnic People

Ababda nomad people of Beja Clan

Ababda man beside his house

Bedouin Nomadic ethnic tribes

Bedouin Ethnic tribes

Bedouin Ethnic Community

Bisharin Ethnic group

Bisharin of Sudan Ethnic people

Berber Ethnic Group

Berber Girl

Berber Woman

Berber Saharan women

Tuareg, Berber Nomadic People

Tuareg , Berber nomadic people living in Mali

Tuareg, Berber nomadic people from Niger

Tuareg nomadic group in south of Algeria

Egyptians are the indigenous people of  Arabic ethnic groups consisting of Mediterranean people and North African clans, and Arabic speaking people.

Egyptian Women

5) Southern Africa Indigenous Tribes

Bushmen living in Kalahari Desert, Botswana / Namibia

Bushmen from Khomari San community

Bushmen modern community with traditional dwellings

Bushmen are the indigenous people of Southern Africa with territories expanded through South Africa areas, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and Angola and many of them are classified as Bushmen San, Sho, Barwa, Kung or Khwe, and most of them are living between Okavango, Botswana and Etosha, Namibia. Most of them are related to Khoisan group or the pastoral community Khoikhoi and they hunter-gatherers.

N!xau (Bushmen actor in Gods Must Be Crazy)

N!xau Toma (Gcao Tekene Coma) belong to Bushmen San tribe in Namibia, a bush farmer and actor and became famous for his character as Kalahari Bushman Xixo, in the 1980’s movie “Gods Must Be Crazy”. N!xau did not know his exact age and was not aware of the value of the paper money, and was paid for the film only for a few hundred dollars. But the next sequel of the movie, he was already aware of his earnings and was able to build a brick house for his family. N!xau died of tuberculosis on July 1, 2003.

Khoikhoi or Khoisan Ethnic groups and the former Namaqua tribe, (Nama) ethnic group and also called Hottentot ethnic group

Khoikhoi or Khoi San ethnic group

Hottentot woman, formerly known as Namaqua tribe, known for their big hips and butts

6)  Indigenous People of West Africa  (Includes Section from Sahara Desert to north of Gulf of Guinea to the south region part :Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Bioko Island, Sahel and Sahara, Congo (Brazzaville), Gabon and Central African Republic.

Baka or Bayaka ethnic tribes,are the Indigenous people of the rainforests of Cameroon

Bubi Ethnic group

Bubi Children with tattoo markings,are the indigenous people to Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea

Fang tribes, are the indigenous people of Gabon and Congo

7) Indigenous People of the Caribbean or West Indies that includes the Island of Hispaniola, Bahamas, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guanahacabibes Peninsula

Taino Village in Cuba, indigenous people of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and Arawak clan of South America

Taino people:Ameridians are the indigenous people of the Hispaniola and Puerto Rico of Arawak descent

Arawak are the indigenous people of the West Indies that includes the Taino people, Lucayans, Nepoya and Suppoya of Trinidad, and the Igneri people and the Caribs.

Arawak , Indigenous people of the West Indies

Ciboney indigenous people of Greater Antilles in the Caribbean sea, from indigenous Taino people which also called Cave Dwellers, because most of the Ciboney indigenous tribes lived in caves. Most of the Ciboney was driven off to western Cuba and western Hispaniola (Haiti).

Ciboney indigenous people living in Western Cuba and Hispaniola

8)  Indigenous People of Central America and Mexico

Cocopah cultural dancer, native American indigenous people Baja California, Sonora Mexico, Arizona and the United States

Garifuna or Garinagu, are the descendant of  Carib, Arawak and West Africans and now living in Central America, along the Caribbean Coast, in Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras. Majority are Catholics but some follow other religions and still practice mystical rituals.

Garifuna indigenous people near Tela, Honduras

Garifuna are indigenous people with mixed native American and West African descents

Itza indigenous people of Guatemalan ethnic group of Mayan clans.

El Castillo at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Mayan Woman of Guatemala

Mayan girls in traditional clothing, Guatemala

Huichol or Waxiritari indigenous people of central Mexico residing in the Sierra Madre Occidental, and ethnic group of Native Americans. Huichol people prefer to be named Waxiritari people which means in Huichol language “the people”.

Huichol Native Indian (woman and baby) Mexican States of Nayarit, Jalisco

Mazatec are the indigenous ethnic people of known as the Sierra Mazateca in Oaxaca in the Southern Mexico and in the states of Puebla and Veracruz.

Mazatec dancers in Huautla de Jimenez, Sierra Mazateca, Oaxaca Mexico

9) North America which includes Greenland, Canada, the United States, Eastern Aleutian Islands (Alaska Peninsula to Kamchatca Peninsula)

Canadian Aboriginal People includes First Nations, , Inuit, Metis . Eskimo (Esquimaux, Inuit-Yupik for Alaska) Indigenous people inhabitants of Eastern Siberia (Russia), across Alaska (United States), Canada and Greenland. “Indians and Eskimo” are considered pejorative in Canada’s aboriginals.

Inuit woman making a Kudlik

Inuit people in traditional Qamutik or sled

Pow-wow at EEL Ground, First Nation people , Canada

Metis People in Red River Ox carts, 1860

Metis People in Red River West

Metis dance

Metis people are Aboriginal people of Canada, who traced the First Nation people as their descendants. The First Nation parentage has mixed races and with Cree, Ojibwe, Algonquin, Saulteaux, Menominee (or Mamaceqraw), Mi’kmaq o Maliseet tribe.

Ojibwe woman and baby

Mi'kmaq people

Tsuu T'ina children in traditional costume

Tsuu T'ina Annual Pow-wow celebration of First Nation in Alberta, Canada

Tsuu T’ina Nation or Tsu T’ina is the indigenous people of First Nation in Canada, and they were formerly known as Sarsi or Sarcee people, a neighboring town to the southwest city of Calgary, Alberta. Sarsi or Sarcee was believed to derived its name from the Blackfoot people, which means “stubborn ones”, but it is an offensive word for the Tssu T’ina people, and from the Athapascan group, and once part of the Daneeza or Beaver Indians.

Blackfoot gathering, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Beaver Creek Indians

10) Indigenous People of  South America (Isthmus of Panama, Peru, Amazonian Rainforest (Brazil), Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Colombia.

Ache Hunter-gatherer , indigenous people of Paraguay

Ache Brazil, performs traditional beliefs and music

Indigenous Aymara people of Bolivia

Aymara women with their Llama, idigenous people of Bolivia

Indigenous Aymara Indian and Quecha Indian wearing traditional clothing

Aymara or Aimara are the indigenous people in the Andes and Altiplano region of South America, and formerly conquered by Inca Empire.

Machu Pichu of Inca Empire

Embera-Wounaan indigenous people of Panama, a semi-nomadic Indians, and former name was Choco and speak the Embera and Wounaan language and they are part of the Chocoan speaking group.

Embera-Wounaan, Indigenous ethnic Indians of Panama

Bororo or Bororo- Boe are indigenous ethnic Indians in the region of Brazil, living in Mato Grosso, and tribes extended into Bolivia and Goias, a state in Brazil.The Bororo ethnic groups are notable for their population of having the same blood type:  Type O.

Bororo are indigenous ethnic Indians of Brazil


Matses or Mayoruna are indigenous ethnic tribes of the Peruvian people and Brazilian Amazon, and their ancestral properties is threatened to be phased out by the illegal loggers and hunters of endangered animals. Matses is a indigenous people rights organization, working for protection and survival of the Matses (Movement in the Amazon for Tribal Subsistence and Economic Sustainability).

Matses or Mayoruna Tribe of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon

Matses Indians, also called Mayoruna indigenous Peruvian people

Korubo man, indigenous ethnic group in the Javari Valley, neighboring tribe of the Mayorunas

Nukak or Nukak-Maku, indigenous group between Guaviare and Inirida Rivers

11)  Asia (Indian Subcontinent, Central Asian Republics, Middle East and Saudi Arabia)

South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Garo woman, indigenous ethnic tribe in Meghalaya, India

Garo indigenous people celebrating Wangala Festival, Bangladesh

Garo indigenous ethnic tribe in Meghalaya, India.

Khasi indigenous people state of Meghalaya, North East India and neighboring Assam, Bangladesh

Khasi indigenous ethnic tribe in Khasi Hill, Bangladesh

Assam women in Majuli

Assamese woman in Pat Silk, dancing Sattrya dance

Khasi are the indigenous ethnic tribe inhabitants of  north east of the Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills heading Brahmaputra Valley. Khasi people are closer to the Garo ethnic group.

12) Central Asia or Middle Asia : Includes former Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekiztan, and other areas are; Afghanistan, Northern Iran, Kashmir northern Pakistan, Mongolia and sometimes Xinjiang and Tibet in western China, and southern Siberia in Russia.

Kashmir Ladakh women in traditional clothings

Kyrgystan wearing traditional Kalpak hat

Kazakhs indigenous people of Kazakhstan

Kazakhs Traditional costume

Tajik Woman and Child

Tajiks women in their national costumes

13) Arabian Peninsula includes: includes constituent countries of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and on the east is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman on southeast, Yemen on the south and Saudi Arabia in the center.

Bidouin women of Kuwait

Bedouin nomad ethnic group in the desert

Tarabin Bedouin family sharing food, living mostly in the desert

14) Central Asia : includes generally the east region of Caspian Sea, Russian Taiga on the south to the Himalayas, then eastwards to Mongolia and western of China  provinces and autonomous regions.

Mongolian women, indigenous people of Mongolia

Monpa indigenous ethnic people of Tibet

Mongolian Yurt traditional dwellings

Hui indigenous Chinese Muslim, celebrating Eid ul-Fitr

Tsamgru, Turk Mongolian ethnic group

Uyghur, Ethnic Turkic people

Pashtun indigenous people of Aghanistan and Pakistan

Pashtun Girl, Pashto language speaking

Pashtun community

15)  East Asia includes: People’s Republic of China, the Korean Peninsula, Japan and Taiwan.

Ainu, indigenous ethnic groups in Hokkaido, Japan

Ryukyuan indigenous people of Okinawa, Japan

Taiwan aboriginal and indigenous ethnic group

Amis, indigenous aborigine of Taiwan

Paiwan girls, indigenous aborigine of Taiwan

Yami people Taiwan aborigine

Ivatan Woman. Taiwan aborigine indigenous people of Batanes Islands, Philippines

16) North Asia Includes the Russian Far East and the Northern and Eastern part of Siberia

Sakha or Yakut indigenous with traditional clothing and dance

Tuvan traditional singer , indigenous people in Siberia and Mongolia

Buryat indigenous people in Siberia

Buryat dancers, indigenous people in Siberia

Buryatia traditional wooden house

Khakas indigenous people in the Republic of Khahassia

Tungusic people includes Oroqen, Xibe, Hezhe, Manchus

17) South East Asia includes Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, Assam in India.

Akha man smoking with his pipe, indigenous people of the Hill tribes in the hills region

Akha elderly woman, indigenous people of the Hill tribes in South East Asia

Akha Village indigenous groups of Northern Thailand

Lahu elderly woman in a Thailand's refugee camp

Lahu girls, indigenous ethnic group in Southeast Asia and China

Hani women indigenous people in Yuanyang, Yunnan, China

Hani ethnic child wearing traditional headdress in Yunnan, China

Hani indigenous group's traditional dwelling in Vietnam

Zayein Karen women in 1920s, indigenous people of the Hill tribes

Karen or Kayin indigenous hill tribes

Kayan Lasha, indigenous ethnic people , also known as the Red Karen Hill tribes

Kayar ethnic tribe, are the Hill tribes indigenous people and member of the Red Karen family

Kayan woman or Padaung, indigenous tribe in Myanmar, Burma

Lisu indigenous ethnic tribe of Tibeto-Burman family

Lisu women, indigenous ethnic people in Thailand

H’Mong indigenous ethnic people inhabitants of China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

Hmong tribe, indigenous ethnic people inhabitants of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand

H'Mong traditional wedding

Hmong typical stone house

18)  South Asia includes the regions of the Indochina and Malay Archipelago

Pribumi or Native Indonesians, indigenous people of Indonesia

Chinese-Indonesiasns, indigenous people of Indonesia from Chinese descendants

Arab-Indonesians community in Indonesia

Adivasi Indigenous ethnic tribes in India

Adivasi woman, indigenous people of Kutia Kondh tribal group in Orissa

Chenchu indigenous ethnic tribes in India

Chenchu indigenous ethnic tribe in India

Koyas indigenous ethnic tribes with similarity with the Chenchu tribes

Adamanese indigenous ethnic people of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands union territory of India, northeast of Bengal Bay

Andamanese indigenous people of the Andaman Islands in India

Chang Naga Indigenous people of Nagaland, India, and in British India they are called Mazung.

Angami Naga indigenous ethnic hill tribe

Naga Yimchunger woman, indigenous people in Morung of Kutur Village

Ao or Machungrr of Naga indigenous group of Nagaland , India

Konyak Naga indigenous Naga family of Nagaland, India

Konyak tribal chief wearing traditional clothing

Honyak tribe ceremonial basket, decorated with two human-heads carved wood and skull of the monkey

Sumi Naga or Sema Naga

Sumi (Mochumi Naga) woman in Zunheboto

Sumi or Sema women in their traditional costume

19 Melanesia includes New Guinea to western Pacific Islands to Arafura Sea to Fiji

American-Samoa (Am-Samoa) indigenous people of Fiji Islands or Melanesia

Samoan indigenous people of Samoa

Tongan indigenous people

Tonga indigenous people

20) Micronesia includes Western and Central Pacific

Chamorro or Chamoru indigenous people of Mariana Islands, AMerican Territory of Guam

Yapese indigenous ethnic people of Yap Islands

Yapese indigenous people wearing traditional attire

Yap also called by locals as Wa’ab found in Caroline Islands of the Western Pacific Ocean and a Federate State of Micronesia, and the locals speak Yapese language.

Polynesia includes New Zealand , central and southern of the Pacific Islands

Rapa Nui indigenous people of Easter Island

Rapa Nui traditional dance

King of Tonga, George Tupou V, Nuku'aloka, Tonga

Tongan Traditional dance, Tau'olunga dance

The Kingdom of Tonga, is a state and South Pacific Ocean Archipelago, located in north south region of New Zealand  to Hawaii.  The Kingdom of Tonga is also known as Friendly Islands.

Maori indigenous people of Oceana Island, New Zealand

traditional dance of indigenous Maori people in New Zealand

Maori are the indigenous people of the Aotearoa (The Long White Cloud) is  New Zealand‘s local name. Maori’s permanent tattoos on their body and faces called Ta moko, is a painful tattoo process by scarification using chisels (uhi) by their Tohunga (tattooist) and considered sacred or tapu. Maori tattoos stand as their symbol and ranks.

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