Do dudes still kill their own food?
July 9, 2010 6:11 AM   Subscribe

So I'm trying my hand at an extra credit paper for a humanities class. It's about hunter-gatherer tribes that are in existence today. I've tried searching for them everywhere and all I've found are the Spinefex People of Australia, in which there is absolutely no information on. I also tried the freeganism movement until realizing that isn't what I'm supposed to be doing at all. So, the question is: do you know of any hunter-gatherer tribes that are in existence today?
posted by amiableamy to Science & Nature (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sentinelese people, but you won't find too much information on them either probably.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:15 AM on July 9, 2010

Wikipedia: "The traditional Khoisan are a hunter and gatherer society". Khoisan = Hottentots

posted by lungtaworld at 6:22 AM on July 9, 2010

!kung in the Kalahari
I'm pretty sure that there are hunter-gatherer tribes in the Amazon basin, the nomadic peoples of Siberia though I can't at this moment recall whether they're true hunter gatherers or herders (there's obviously something of a continuum between 'true' h-gs, herders of wild animals like the Sami, and farmers)
posted by atrazine at 6:25 AM on July 9, 2010

Not sure what you mean or where you draw the line. There are hundreds of indigenous societies on earth where members still draw substantial caloric intake from subsistence hunting (or gathering). If you don't mean "have no other resources," for example, I'd guesstimate that Alaskan Iñupiaq folks, with whom I work (and hunt and eat), get well more than half their protein calories from subsistence-hunted meat. In Canada or Russia that number is going to be even higher.

They gather, to be sure, at the grocery store in town (hello $15 gallon of milk!).
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:31 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Look at the work of Jared Diamond on the people of Papa New Guinea. Also the Inuits are hunter-gathers.
posted by holdkris99 at 6:32 AM on July 9, 2010

Best answer: Did your professor say no to freeganism?

If one of my students interpreted the assignment in that way, I'd be really impressed. Maybe run it by the instructor if you haven't already?
posted by vincele at 6:34 AM on July 9, 2010 [7 favorites]

Best answer: There are a number of hunter-gatherer groups still around. There are the !Kung (sometimes known as San, who are not really the same thing as the Khoisan, who in turn are no longer known as the Hottentots) in Namibia and Botswana, groups like the Martu in Australia, various groups in the Amazon, most famously the Yanomamo, and I guess you would include some Native American/Canadian First nation groups in there, too. None of these are "pure" or "untouched" groups because such things don't really exist (not even in cases like this, which turned out to be sensationalized and generally pretty racist).

Bearing in mind the very, very sensible concerns laid out by anthropologists like those in that last Savage Minds post, I would look to groups like Survival International and Cultural Survival to start your search.
posted by col_pogo at 6:54 AM on July 9, 2010

Some of the Hadza people in Tanzania still live as hunter-gathers.
posted by ChrisHartley at 6:57 AM on July 9, 2010

Best answer: Oops, I see that my Savage Minds link, while good on the general point, didn't actually address that "uncontacted" tribe. Here's a more specific link that refutes the Daily Mail story.

The general point is that no groups exist completely outside our "modern" economy and almost no one subsists completely on a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Many groups we assumed relied on hunting actually rely more on gathering and, even more, on a sort of shifting horticulture that was unseen, ignored, or misunderstood by scientists until recently.
posted by col_pogo at 7:03 AM on July 9, 2010

TURNBULL, Colin M. 1962. The Forest People: A Study of the Pygmies of the Congo. New York: Touchstone.

That was the primary text used in my Making of the Modern World anthropology course at UCSD. We also considered the Kawelka of Papua New Guinea, but they have subsistence agriculture, so maybe they're not what you're after.
posted by slow graffiti at 8:14 AM on July 9, 2010

The Pirahã. There are a few hundred left.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:21 AM on July 9, 2010

The CBC show The Nature of Things aired an amazing documentary a couple of years ago about the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe left on the planet, the Penan of Borneo. Spoiler alert: they're not nomads anymore. It's a beautiful but tremendously sad doc. I highly recommend it.
posted by just_ducky at 8:45 AM on July 9, 2010

One group which is struggling to maintain their hunter-gatherer lifestyle is the Ogiek of Kenya, also known (pejoritavely) as the Wadorobo. There's all sorts of really interesting conflict there, as they were subsumed by the Maasai and are working to reassert their identity as a separate ethnic group and still resist development and all that good stuff. There have definitely been a few good ethnographies written about them.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:46 AM on July 9, 2010

Best answer: You might like this Wikipedia article to get you started: Uncontacted people

Also, if this is for an academic class, consider engaging with the academic literature. A Google Scholar search of 'modern hunter/gatherer' yields thousands of results indicating a rich literature. Try to find a survey paper, or a review paper, or even a textbook, as a starting point.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:52 AM on July 9, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, guys. I think I am just gonna go with freeganism, because the paper's supposed to be 800 words and I can only pull so much out of thin air and as many of you have stated, these tribes don't have a lot of information out there.
posted by amiableamy at 8:53 AM on July 9, 2010

No, seriously, I bet you there are dozens of books on this topic. It's not "thin air". If we know their name it's because anthropologists have studied them.

You want Spinefex? Here's a whole book about them.

Here's a review paper talking about hunter/gatherers and how they were perceived through history. Here's a book chapter about demographics of hunter/gatherers. This is 30 seconds of Google Scholar searching.

Though freeganism is an interesting angle, I suppose you could try it. I would search for 'urban foraging' as well. I doubt it's exactly what your prof is after, though.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:06 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

PercussivePaul has a very good point. I mean, "freeganism" is certainly interesting, but I'm betting there's much less actual academic research on them than on any one of the other groups named here.

Just do a Jstor search at your college library, or check out some of the many books and articles listed at the end of each of the various Wikipedia links here.
posted by col_pogo at 9:30 AM on July 9, 2010

Instead of searching for 'hunter gatherers' which in some circles is a bit of an outdated term, try searching for 'foragers' (and variants: foraging). They are one and the same anthropologically speaking. You might also look for 'bands' which is the political term usually associated with foragers/hunter gatherers. The Kwakwaka'wakw (formerly known as the Kwakiutl) in British Columbia, Canada are usually classified as foragers, but note that they are unusual foragers because of their political hierarchy.
posted by kch at 9:47 AM on July 9, 2010

The Korowai of Irian Jaya (contacted 1970) also come to mind. Again, the Wikipedia links are a good place to start.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:57 AM on July 9, 2010

...and as many of you have stated, these tribes don't have a lot of information out there.

Actually, nobody said that. There's plenty of easily accessible information about actual hunter-gatherers linked above.

posted by General Tonic at 10:18 AM on July 9, 2010

I gave you a full book title in my previous post. That's not 'thin air.' I encourage you to ask your library if they have it; it's famous, most big university libraries should have it. You're not going to be able to write this paper off of internet sources - you need to read scholarly work to do this paper properly.
posted by slow graffiti at 11:36 AM on July 9, 2010

Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman is a good read. And the link is to the book, free, on Google Books.

I don't know the exact wording of your assignment but calling freegans a "tribe" is kind of a stretch. At best, they are a bunch of "tribes" unified by a common ideal. If you do decide to go this route, I'd at least try to focus on once specific group of freegans.
posted by bitterpants at 12:39 PM on July 9, 2010

Response by poster: I'm not trying to piss anybody off. The paper is due Monday, I was given a week to do it. I assumed there would be boundless information online on any tribes Metafilter could provide. It's extra credit to maintain my GPA, I'm not overly concerned about use of scholary resources, but thank you for the help.
posted by amiableamy at 1:39 PM on July 9, 2010

The Andamanese:

Some groups have been contacted, so there's some info about their culture, but there's at least one group that not only still hunts and gathers, but is one of the last uncontacted groups of people left.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:25 PM on July 9, 2010

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