Indigenous Overview and History

There are 476 million Indigenous people spread across 90 countries worldwide. Indigenous means “native” or “original”, and the term “Indigenous peoples” refers to people that were originally living in the referred to geographical territory.

The NDIGI Village Coop is committed to creating a better financial wellbeing for members with our goal being to support the building of healthier, stronger, more financially resilient, and creative Indigenous communities, with innovative products and services; helping to fulfil the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

United Nations Indigenous Declaration

Indigenous communities

Indigenous Australians

The Indigenous population of Australia is estimated to be 745,000 individuals or 3 percent of the total population of 24,220,200.

Australia’s Indigenous peoples are two distinct cultural groups made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But there is great diversity within these two broadly described groups exemplified by the over 250 different language groups spread across the nation.

An accepted definition of an Indigenous Australian proposed by the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs in the 1980s and still used by some Australian Government departments today is ‘a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives’.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples also have their own laws and customs to determine the membership of their group.

When used in Australia, the words Indigenous, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander are capitalised, as would be the name of any other group of people – this is seen as a mark of respect. It is best not to resort to the acronyms of ATSI or TSI. The preferred title of reference at present is ‘First Nations Australians‘.

Many First Nations Australians have a deep connection with their geographical areas of familial descent, and for example may refer to themselves as ‘Koori’, ‘Murri’, or ‘Noongar‘ peoples, among many other names. These are generally relevant to the greater region they are connected to but can also be specified and classified differently depending on the person’s ancestry.

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Torres Strait Islanders – prefer to use the name of their home Island to identify themselves to outsiders. Some Torres Strait Islanders were born and raised in mainland Australia.

A ceremony held by First Nations Australians – commonly called a ‘Corroboree’, consists of singing and dancing activities. Often during the gathering, stories of how the natural environment was shaped and humanised by the actions of mythic beings are told.

Indigenous Australian arts

Indigenous Australian Art collections can have a focus on modern art, including paintings, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video and artistic installations.

Native American Indian

Native Americans, also called American Indians, Amerindians, Amerinds, Indians, Aboriginal Americans, or member of any of the Aboriginal peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

 Those interested in the Native American past also draw information from traditional arts, folk, literature, folklore, archaeology, and other sources.

Many Indigenous American groups were hunting and gathering cultures, while others were agricultural peoples. A culture area is a geographic region where certain cultural traits have generally co-occurred; for instance, in North America between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Northwest Coast culture area was characterized by traits such as salmon fishing, woodworking, and large villages or towns, and hierarchical social organisation.

Here are a few examples of the biggest tribal populations of the Native Americans:

  1. Cherokee Cherokee is the biggest of the biggest Native American tribes. Today, tribal members are working to preserve their unique cultures, traditions, and language. Before COVID-19 hit the Cherokee, only about 2,000 Cherokee tribal members remained that could speak the language fluently, and many of these members were considered elders.

  2. Navajo – one of the two largest Indian tribes, the Navajo or Dinè tribal members are close relatives of the Apache tribes. The Navajo are also natives of the Four Corners region (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado). This Indian tribe is well known for its artistry, jewellery, and contributions to the military.

  3. Choctaw Choctaw is one of the three biggest tribes. Choctaw Nation spans 12 tribal districts and eight Oklahoma counties, with its headquarters in Durant, Oklahoma. Early Choctaw tribal members were best known for building mounds and lived in a matriarchal society.

  4. Chippewa Chippewa tribal members were originally known as the largest and most powerful tribe of American Indians in the Great Lakes area. The Chippewa or Ojibwe peoples were colonised by European-descended Canadians.

  5. Sioux – The Sioux Indians were known as some of the fiercest warriors—and not just among native peoples. Only male tribal members who had earned the right through an act of courage could wear a grizzly bear claw necklace. The name “Sioux” itself means “allies,” which includes seven bands: Oglala, Hunkpapa, Sicangu, Miniconjous, Sihasapa, Oohenumpa, and Itazipacola. Approximately 170,110 people or 7 Council Fires live across North America in the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Canada—which has 13 autonomous political subdivisions. 

Indigenous people have always had a strong commitment to their communities — a moral obligation to contribute for the benefit of the community as a whole is a strength shared by many Indigenous cultures. To spread Indigenous art throughout the world and the metaverse will take both volunteers, and commercial enterprises. For Ndigi, the most important thing is that is that knowledge, artwork, traditions, and cultural awareness are spread far and wide to promote and support Indigenous communities to thrive.

Native American Indian Artworks


  • Maori are the Tangata Whenua, the Indigenous people in New Zealand (Aotearoa)
  • Traditional Māori culture has thereby enjoyed a significant revival, in the Maori Language.
  • Maori people are very good at carving traditional and contemporary.
  • There are many different Maori tribes in Aotearoa
  • Maori trace their bloodline to mother earth and father sky
  • Maori display their bloodline in carving, tattoos, drawings, oral speaking
  • Maori came to Aotearoa on many waka (boats),
  • Maori tribes a commonly named after a common ancestor
  • Maori always acknowledge their ancestor who has passed on

Contemporary Maori Arts


Tonga is known as the “Friendly Islands”.

Although Indigenous Tongan governance remained, the Tongan monarchy has one of the longest, uninterrupted hereditary monarchies from one family of any country in the world.

Their Culture is Polynesian, and the history of the nation shows that through the ages it has been one of the most dominant countries in the region. Traditional dress and dance still feature heavily in Tongan culture, and 98 percent of the population is Christian.

Tonga has a Royal King and also the Tongan government. Tonga has cultural tattooing.

Tongan Artworks


While Samoa’s population is estimated at 203, 900 in 2021. The form of government is a mix of parliamentary democracy. Samoa is a country in the central South Pacific Ocean, among the westernmost island countries of Polynesia, and is known as the “Cradle of Polynesia” because Savai’i island is said to be Hawaiki, the Polynesian homeland.

Samoa has cultural tattooing for men and women. Samoan is the country’s official language; legislative activity is conducted in both Samoan and English as required by the constitution. 

Learn about the traditional practice of Samoan tattooing at the Cultural Village in Apia, Samoa

Music, dance, tattooing, and oral literature are significant art forms in Samoa. Males at age 12 or 13 visit a local tufuga (tattoo artist) for tattooing from waist to knee, a prolonged and often painful process that is considered a rite of passage. Music has always been central to Samoan life.

Samoan Artworks

African Tribes

It is the world’s second-largest continent and the only continent that spans both northern and southern hemispheres. Africa is about 11.7 million mi² (30.37 million km²) in size! This means the US is 32.4% the size of Africa, and the UK is only 0.8% of the size.

Africa has over 50 independent countries and accounts for about 16% of the world’s population. That translates to over 1.2 billion people.

Now, while it is easy to homogenise and talk about ‘African people’, the truth is that within these 54 separate and unique countries, there are in fact over 3000 diverse African tribes!

Perhaps South Africa best reflects this diversity through its constitution with all 11 official languages recognised by law.

6 African Tribes with Traditional African Cultures are the:

  1. Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania
  2. Himba of northwest Namibia
  3. Zulu of South Africa
  4. Bushman, San or Khoisan, of Southern Africa
  5. Southern Ndebele tribe of South Africa
  6. Samburu of Northern Kenya

Indigenous African

Indigenous African Arts

A Guide to the Indigenous Tribes of the Philippines

Of the more than 7,600 islands in the Philippines and three major island groups, these are Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It is not surprising to think that different cultures, traditions, and groups of the country have their archipelago communities that exist, with Indigenous tribes able to retain their cultural identity despite the lack of recognition, and marginalisation that they often face.

Although there are so many Indigenous tribes or ethnic groups in the country, they remain some of the poorest, least educated, and marginalised members of society. Most of these people live in the mountains, across rivers or the sea and the rest of them live in caves. Therefore, they were not affected by Spanish or American colonisation, which is the main reason why they preserved their customs and traditions.

There are two main ethnic groups consisting of some Indigenous people in the highlands and lowlands living within the Philippines – from the northern and southern parts of the Philippines. The Indigenous peoples living in the northern part of the country are called Igorot, while the non-Muslim Indigenous tribes living in the south are called Lumad.

Igorot Tribes from the Northern Philippines

Filipino women of the mountain tribes in Banaue

The Igorot, who make up many tribes in the northern part of the country, mostly live in the mountains of the Cordillera Region. It is known for being an area in which rice is cultivated. A group called the Ifugao built the Banaue Rice Terraces – also called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. The ancestors of this Indigenous tribe carved an irrigation system in the rice terraces in the mountains of Ifugao, more than twenty years ago.

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Banaue Rice Terraces

The Igorot tribes are also included in the Bontoc, Ibaloi, Isneg, Kalinga, Kankanaey, and Tinguian groups. The other tribes living in the north are the Isnag from Apayao, Gaddang (they are located between the provinces of Kalinga and Isabela), and the Ilongot who live within the eastern mountains of Luzon called the Sierra Madre and Caraballo Mountains. Ilongots are also known for their aggressiveness and cultural conservatism.

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Lumad Tribes from the Southern Philippines

Lumad Tribe member in Davao
Meanwhile, in the southern part of the country, Indigenous tribes are mostly found in Mindanao and Visayas. In Mindanao, existing non -Muslim indigenous people are collectively known as Lumad – a Cebuano term meaning ‘indigenous’. Lumad tribes are made up of more than thirteen ethnic groups which include:

 Blaan        Bukidnon          Higaonon         Mamanwa   Mandaya   Manobo           Mansaka          Sangir      Subanen     Tagabawa        Tagakaulo   Tasaday    T’boli                 

 Their tribe is generally known for the music produced by the musical instruments they create.

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Of the above, the Manobo tribe includes large ethnic groups such as:

  • Ata-Manobo
  • Agusan-Manobo
  • Dulangan -Manobo

The total population of the Manobo group is unknown because they occupy major areas in the province of Mindanao Region.

Other major tribes in the country

Apart from the two main Indigenous groups mentioned above, the following tribes have also kept their traditions, customs, and cultures alive.

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Around the Sulu islands in Mindanao, the Badjao are people known as 'sea tribes', due to their living on houseboats. Their occupation is by relying on the sea as divers, fishermen, and navigators. Due to the unrest in the region, most of them moved to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, while those who remained in the Philippines moved to some areas in Luzon.

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The Ati & Tumandok

One of the few tribes in the Visayas, the Ati and Tumandok tribes of Panay Island were the first to call the island their home. Genetically related to other Indigenous groups in the country, they mostly resemble the Aeta or Negritos characterised by their dark skin.

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Palawan Tribe

Palawan is also home to various tribes such as the Batak, Palaweño, Palawano, and Tagbanwa. Most of the inhabitants here are in the mountains or low dwellings, some of these groups also belong to the large Manobo tribe of the South.

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Mangyan Tribe

The Mangyans of Mindoro are a well-known clan in the Philippines because they have the largest population. Composed of eight different Mangyan groups, they have a peaceful reputation, unlike the guarding tribes in the North and the warrior tribes from the South. Most of them have already converted to Christianity, but there is still a large percentage of those who practice animistic religious beliefs.

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Aetas or Negritos

The Aetas (or Agta, or Ayta) were one of the earliest known inhabitants of the Philippines who now live in the scattered mountainous areas of the country. The Spanish colonialists called them ‘Negrito’ because of their dark and brown skin. They are nomadic but very good at weaving, and Aetang women are considered experts in herbal medicine. Today, Indigenous groups in the country remain in their original ancestral land as they maintain their customs and cultural traditions.

Philippine Indigenous Arts

Indigenous communities improving identity and pride through art

Where can I buy NFTs?

  1. OpenSea – a platform that has a total trading volume of over $6.5 billion  (according to analytics platform DappRadar), offering NFTs of everything from in-game items and collectibles, to artwork, music, GIFs, and more.
  2. NBA Top Shot Marketplace – here you can buy a set of digital trading cards featuring NBA video highlight clips. Once you purchase a pack, clips are stored in your secure, encrypted blockchain-verified wallet, where you can view them or re-sell them on the NBA Top Shot Marketplace.
  3. Rarible – a community-owned platform. It currently has the fifth-highest all-time trading volume according to Dappradar, with $210 million having changed hands.
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Some things to consider about NFTs and Indigenous culture:

  • NFTs are unique, indivisible, inter-changeable, and are built and verifiable on the blockchain.
  • Before NFT marketplaces, people transacted for digital goods through traditional e-commerce shops.
  • Australian Indigenous Artwork is known for its  dramatic increases in value over time and with NFT’s being new, this space is completely unexplored in relation to this genre of art.
  • First Nations people migrated to what is now known as Australia approximately 50,000 years ago and brought their rich tribal culture, spiritual beliefs and their art.

Indigenous communities selling art on NFT marketplaces examples


Owner: Erick Calderon & Jeff Davis (Art Blocks Founders)
Art Blocks is perhaps the most exciting NFT platform from a creative and conceptual view, pushing the boundaries of creative experimentation in the generative art space.

Art Blocks Founders


Artist: Minnie Pwerle (Australian Aboriginal)

A striking painting by famed Australian aboriginal artist Minnie Pwerle depicting her country “Awelyewe- Atnwengerrp”. Bold composition with intense colors, this abstract painting was dated to 2005, the year before the artist’s death and it was one of the strongest pieces we have seen in her repertoire.

Awelyewe Atnwengerrp