What do the Inuit, the Bushmen of the Kalahari, Aboriginal Australians, Costa Rica's Bri Bri, and the Dani of New Guinea have in common? If you guessed climate, then you would be way off. Instead, this list of indigenous groups from around the world is just a sample of the people who have practiced or continue to practice traditional economy.
In a traditional economic system, the questions of what and how to produce and who to produce for are answered by tradition. If ever you have witnessed a documentary on a primitive culture, then you have also seen a traditional economy in action. The Kalahari's Bushmen live in one of the world's harshest environments where even the most basic resources are in meager supply. In order to survive and have enough food, the Bushmen have developed a division of labor based on gender. Women perform the food gathering and men perform the hunting. The food is then shared with the whole tribe. In this type of system, stability and continuity are favored over innovation and change. The roles of the people are defined by gender and status in the community. In this system, the old, young, weak, and disabled are cared for by the group. The group shares the few possessions they have, and private property is an alien concept. For the most part, everyone in this system understands his or her relationship to the community, and as a result, life hums along in a fairly predictable way.
As the world's indigenous people are absorbed into modern economies, they often suffer. The skill sets and practices that help them to survive in the rainforest, desert, or tundra are rendered useless in a world of freeways, factories, and fast food.