One of my missions in life is to create a Book of Lost Peoples which would be a catalogue of forgotten nations or ethnic groups: a list of the names of tribes or states that have been shunted to one side by the rest of the world, nations that have been victimised, abused and tortured by the world’s conquering overlords.
No group, state, people, tribe, clan or nation would take precedence over any other but where on earth would we begin with such a list? Where is the line drawn between ‘conquered’ and ‘conqueror’? Most nations have their fair share of bloodshed and slaughter. But let’s look at an example and take a country like Poland. You can be sure in saying that Poland has been routinely kicked in the knackers by many of their European neighbours through its history, but they have also – themselves – been less than polite to their smaller neighbours. A conquered nation? Not really…
A country like Poland could not really be classified as forgotten or lost (perhaps it might have been a hundred and fifty years ago). But how about a nation like Tibet? Would Tibet make the Book of Lost Peoples? I’d like to think so and I’d like to think that the rest of the world might help in the fight for survival of these people who cannot continue the battle alone.
After reading Anna Politkovskaya‘s The Dirty War, I feel that we could also include the Chechens and the Ingush in our list of forgotten peoples. What a tragedy it would be if these peoples disappeared like the Khazars of old.
I’m sure we can all think of hundreds of other nations and peoples that have come and go, states that have twinkled and then gone out after been overridden by foreign invaders. We might list hundreds of Amerindian tribes that were slaughtered by the God-fearing Americans in their quest to convert the barbarians, we could mention a certain cosy corner of Germany where the Sorbs live in ever-decreasing numbers or we might mention a tribe of several hundred people living in deepest Africa.
There are vast numbers of nations that are gradually becoming extinct for a variety of reasons. A good start for any research might be the UNESCO Red Book which lists the world’s endangered languages. If any of you out there have any ideas about which nations, peoples, tribes etc could be included in the Book of Lost Tribes then post it here together with a reference link.