From Seeker via Discovery: “Documenting The World’s Last Nomadic Tribes”

Discovery News
Discovery News

Seeker from Discovery

Taylor Kubota

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Native nomadic tribes are disappearing across the world. See how some photographers are trying to preserve their endangered legacies.

The Tuareg (Twareg or Touareg; endonym Imuhagh) are group of largely matrilineal semi-nomadic, pastoralist people of Berber extraction residing in the Saharan interior of North-Western Africa. The Tuaregs who are mostly Sunni Muslims descended from the Berber (“Amazigh branch”) ancestors who lived in North Africa many years ago. Migdalovitz (1989) aver that “Garamante is believed to be the origin of Tuaregs and it was the predominant tribe in the south west of Libya some time before 1000 BC.”

We talk a lot about endangered species and disappearing environments but parts of life that are more difficult to categorize can be threatened with extinction as well. Language, customs, and traditional practices are often passed down from generation to generation but some fall by the wayside. Just because a cultural tradition is going away doesn’t mean it’s valueless. This is part of the sentiment of UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding holds 314 elements from countries all around the world. You may have heard of some of the list items -such as Chinese shadow puppetry, French horseback riding, and Colombian Marimba music – but you are unlikely to be familiar with everything on this list. For example, Jultagi (Korean tightrope walking), the Ifa divination system from Nigeria, and the silent circle dance of the Dalmatian hinterland of Croatia are just a few “intangibles” that may hold some mystery for the majority of us.

With all the impact humans have on the natural world, it may feel misguided to focus on preserving pieces of human culture. Particularly considering these are often simply the victims of progress and modernization. But, as we all know and have each probably said ourselves, it’s vital that we learn from our history, so that we can attempt to avoid past mistakes. Attempts to preserve culture can help us in this, through the maintenance and study of oral history, unique craftsmanship, and traditional wisdoms. Studying cultural heritage can also provide us with colorful, diverse, rich experiences that can be difficult to find in the modern era.

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