A tribe or peoples in Artics who thought they were only inhabitants of earth

Recall seeing a nature programme on TV a few years ago. It was based on a tribe in the artics who when they were found (around the middle of the last century) by explorers stated that they never saw any other humans apart from their own tribe and had believed for all their history that they were the only humans on the planet. Could someone point out a reference to this in literature as i cant. Thanks in advance.

The story is that the Polar Eskimos, the northernmost Inuit group of Greenland, thought they were the only human beings in the world until they were visited by English explorer John Ross in 1818. They had apparently lost contact with other Inuit groups centuries earlier.


To those of us in the UK a "a tribe in the artics" would be a description of the Ice Road Truckers.

(An ‘artic’ is what we over here call a semi)

The Polar Eskimo had also lost / abandoned quite a bit of Arctic technology used by other Eskimo groups. It is apparent that they had suffered from cultural loss, most likely due to disease killing off people with critical knowledge, some time in the past. Still, they managed to survive, isolated and diminished.

And they prefer to not be referred to as ‘Eskimo’ around these parts. FYI.

True in your neck of the woods (Canada), and Greenland, but not true in Alaska where “Eskimo” is commonly used.

According to Titu Cusi, Manco Inca’s son, the Inca also laboured under the same delusion, saying “Until the Spanish came, we thought this was the whole world, for we knew of no other.”

Yeah, but that was an empire spanning an area that encompasses several modern countries, not some tiny, isolated tribe.

One suspects their Miss Manners rules for greeting guests had grown a bit rusty by that time.

Fair enough. Just though it was even more odd in the case of the Inca, you’d think an empire would have more information.

And I’m suspicious of the claim, too. There would have been a vast trade network within the empire, and it’s hard to imagine that network did not extend outside the empire even if the central authority was unaware of it.

I never heard of this particular story, but from time to time so called ‘uncontacted peoples’ are ‘discovered’, usually in a vast jungle area in Brazil or such. I’m not saying it’s no big deal, but you make it sound so dramatic

They didn’t believe anything, they just didn’t know any better and certainly had no concept of the planet. And as they didn’t have writing, their known history went back a few generations at best …

“Uncontacted” means uncontested by the authorities. Such tribes know of other tribes in the area, most of which would have been “contacted”.

Oral history can reach back much further than that:

Here’s a story of how Inuit oral history recorded the fate of British ships lost in 1846.

And here’s one that confirms an oral legend of some 800 years ago.