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We step back in time with the Hadza

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Magama hands his bow and arrow to 14-year-old Travis. The arrow is tipped with a sharp metal barb. Travis lets fly, and his arrow lands close to the target, a burlap bag lying in the African dust.

Magama and the other Hadza hunters clap politely. Travis is the best shot among our group of American visitors, but among Hadza hunters, he would probably be the guy who cleans the carcass.

Magama takes us for a walk in the bush. With eight Americans (my family and another) trailing behind, it's not surprising when he doesn't find game.

"I wanted him to come back with a dead moose," 8-year-old Connor says. "Oh, they don't live in Africa – a dead antelope or something." Walking back into the Hadza camp, Connor spots a Cape buffalo skull. "Cool!" Through our translator, Magama tells us he shot it last week. Archery isn't a game for the Hadza. They are in a real-life "Survivor," where everyone plays for keeps.

What is a hunter-gatherer?

The Hadza are hunter-gatherers who live in Tanzania, in east Africa. (See map.) Hunter-gatherers search for their food. Instead of growing fruits and vegetables on a farm, they gather wild plants to eat. Instead of raising animals like cattle or sheep, hunter-gatherers get meat by killing wild animals. The men usually hunt, while women and children usually do the gathering. Hadza men hunt animals like zebra, giraffe, and impala (a medium-size antelope). Sometimes they steal animals that lions have killed. Hadza women and children gather berries, roots, and other wild plants.

Our families have come to visit the Hadza while on safari in Africa. From our campsite, it is an hour's ride in a four-wheel-drive truck and a short hike to reach the Hadza camp.


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