In search of 21st century hunter-gatherers

Join me on my travels to remote corners of the world in search of the last remaining hunter-gatherers

Find out how they live today, what traditions still survive and how they are coping with the ever-encroaching modern world

Visit the parched thirstlands of the Kalahari desert...

the remote wooded valleys of the Western Ghats, India...

and the steamy jungles of Borneo...





We are all hunter-gatherers, and for at least 90% of our history we knew of no other way to live. Our ancestors, the nomadic hunter-gatherers, lived in extended family groups who believed in sharing everything and owning nothing. They had no leaders and important decisions were agreed upon by consensus. They lived in complete harmony with nature and had a totally sustainable lifestyle that endured for millennia.

Then around 10-15000 years ago something strange happened, some of us settled down and started farming. No one is sure why we did this, the wilderness provided a plentiful supply of food and everything we needed to survive. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle exploited this abundance relatively effortlessly, but through their hard-labour the farmers thrived and the surplus food they created led to mushrooming polulations and ever more farms.

These large concentrations of people required more complex social structures; leaders emerged, settlements were built and natural resources were plundered. The ultimate and undesirable consequences for mankind were things that were hitherto unknown: greed, control, domination, subservience, theft, slavery and warfare.

Hunter-gatherers, whose polulations were small and possessed no weapons of war didn't stand a chance. The farmers took all the best land for themselves, while hunter-gatherers were persecuted and driven back ever further into the world's most inhospitable and demanding environments (hence the myth that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was harsh).

This process has not yet reached its conclusion, it is still going on TODAY! The last remaining refuges of the hunter-gatherer are now being exploited, not for food, but for pure profit!! Capitolism, globalization and a worldwide population explosion have accelerated this process and left poor nations with no other choice but to turn their last remaining wildernesses into more productive land. Unfortunately, in many places, there are hunter-gatherers who for millennia have called this wilderness their home.

An embarressment to their own national governments they are forcibly relocated and their ancestral lands are destroyed as they are thrust into the modern world at very lowest rung of poverty; abused and treated like dirt they have nowhere to turn; fear soon turns to alcoholism and despair.

The Penan of Borneo are must watch as their jungles are being destroyed by logging companies and palm oil plantations; the Naikas of India must watch as their last remaining refuges are turned into national parks which they are then excluded from and no longer allowed to hunt and gather in; and the Bushmen of the Kalahari must watch as they are forcibly resettled, their children become alcoholics or die of AIDS, and their ancestral lands are exploited by mining operations and safari companies.

Hunter-gatherers do still exist in the world, in tiny isolated pockets, but their days are numbered as the great steam-roller that is the modern world rolls effortlessly over them. I have set myself the task of trying to find some of these last hunter-gatherers, and maybe in the process learn some ultimate truths about the original human condition.

What is it really like to live as nature intended and not have to deal with the stresses and strains of the artificial world which we have created for ourselves?

Join me in my search for truth.

Rob

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Copyright 2008 Robert H Taylor