You may be familiar with country Tasmania through the cartoon character the Tasmanian devil, or like me you may not have even thought it was a real place at first. Located 240km south of Australian mainland, it’s original name was Palawa but the country was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Taman around 1642. Soon after his arrival in comes the British, and the island became a settlement for convicts and during the 1800’s more than 65,000 male and female convicts settled there. Then the Aboriginal genocide began, 5000 inhabitants were massacred leaving a total number of 75 around 1830. Apparently the Tasmanian devil cartoon was made to depict the way the Europeans came in and destroyed a group of people in the most devastating of ways. The picture you see above are the last four Tasmanian aborigines, Truganini the female on the right was the last to survive and died in 1876. Not a single European was punished for any of this, neither is this ever really spoken about in history class.
The Ainu people are an indigenous ethnic group from Japan. Found in the northern most part of Japan in a place called Hokkaido lived a tribe of people with Negroid features. They were eventually pushed out by lighter skinned Japanese settlers around the 15th century and many of them died from the diseases brought from the new dwellers. They are said to be the descendants of the Jomon people, who bear a striking resemblance to the San people. The San people are according to scientists the most ancient race of people living on earth (see above), they still reside in southern Africa today.
The Atayal and Bunun tribes are the Aborigines of Taiwan, who’s descendants can be found in the Phillipines, Malaysia and Madagascar. They were residing in Taiwan long before the Han immigration. The island formally known as Formosa meant that many tribes spoke the language Formosan but due to colonising new comers, few inhabitants can speak their language. The Bunun tribe (picture on the left) were known as headhunters because they literally collected the heads of their enemies in battle. They were also renown for their tribal music
The Malay Peninsula
The Batak people are an indigenous tribe living in the rainforest of Malaysia. Orang Asli is the term they use to describe themselves which means ‘Original people’. They live the hunter gatherer way and have been asked to leave their foraging lifestyle to settle down and take up Swidden agriculture (read more about this here), the Batek responded like this “We Batek are rich if we have a cooking pot, digging stick, bush-knife, lighter, tobacco, salt and fishing pole. Also a man is sad if he doesn’t have a blowpipe. We only want four or five sarongs, we don’t need trousers. If we live here (in Pos Lebir), we need money, if we have money we buy a lot. But if we have no money, no problem, we reject possessions. When we live in the forest, we don’t need them. We can dig tubers. If someone doesn’t have food, others give it as in the old days”. Wow, that to me is the definition of freedom. The development schemes of the Malaysian government continue and they are reducing the amount of original forest left.
The Andaman Islands
Located near India, a group of tribes (Jarawa, Jangli, Sentinelese and Onge) known as the Andaman tribes reside. These tribes are the key evidence of early migrations of people from Africa and the Arabian peninsula (read Journey of a Man by Spencer Wells for more information). They worship a God named Paluga and their religion can be described as monotheistic. These tribes particularly the Sentinelese have no outside contact with the world…I don’t blame them either.
Although they were brought as slaves by the Portuguese (so not really indigenous, I just thought this was interesting), The Siddi tribe have called India their home for over 200 years. Said to have originated from the Bantu tribes of south east Africa there are more than 60,000 of them living in India and Pakistan today. Most of these migrants are Muslim with a smaller minority being Christians. Read more about these people in this article here
The Olmec civilisation has been the source of debate as to whether there was a negroid presence in America before the Trans Atlantic slave trade. The colossal Olmec heads found in what is now called Mexico show flat faces with thick lips and a wide nose. In the Aztec language the name Olmec means “Rubber people”, which hints to contact between the indigenous people and different race of people. Could it be that Africans got to America before Columbus? I’ll let you decide.