Ethiopian Tribes - Omo Valley

Indigenous Tribes in the Southern Omo Valley of Ethiopia have existed for hundreds of years with limited outside influence. They have cultivated their customs and rituals and have survived nature and mankind’s brutality. Yet today the outside world has infiltrated their balance and their survival is at risk.

The Ethiopian Government has built damns upstream from the Suri Tribe’s Villages and the lack of water is devastating. Water is essential to their life and survival. Various tribes are being moved by the government to new locations where they cannot farm or hunt as they are accustomed to.

Border problems are a way of life in Southern Ethiopia.  Nuer Tribe’s cattle are their livelihood and neighboring tribes from Southern Sudan attack their villages at night and steal cattle. They have also been known to kidnap their children to care for the cattle. As a result, there is now an overabundance of Kalashnikov rifles being carried by the local tribesmen for protection. Combine the guns with the local liquor and the situation becomes more dangerous.

As I enter their world as a documentary photographer, my presence changes their behaviors and attitudes and I can only wonder if my curiosity, no matter how well intended, has a negative effect on their lives.

Individual choices are affecting their tribal bonds and the tribe’s collective identity is changing.

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