In Black Panther during the ceremony to become King

all the tribes refused to fight T'Challa except the Jabari tribe.

And later on in the film we see a small civil war break out with the Rhino guys who are one tribe siding with Killmonger who fight the royal guards who side with T'Challa.

The Jabari come save the day in the end

We already know there are other tribes but what are they and why do they not help?

2 Answers 2


According to SyfyWire

There are 8 tribes.

  1. The Panther Tribe: The Royal Family

    King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), his stepsister Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) and her mother, the King’s stepmother Queen Mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett) currently rule Wakanda. The royal family is protected by the Dora Milaje, Wakanda's Royal Guard headed by General Okoye (Danai Gurira) and her First in Command Ayo (Florence Kasumba).

  2. War Dogs

    The family may have the Dora Milaje, but the country has protection as well in the form of the Wakandan Secret police, called Hatut Zeraze (The Dogs of War). In the comics the War Dogs are confined to Wakanda, only traveling with the King when necessary. In director Ryan Coogler’s MCU version, they are stationed all over the world and keep an eye on political unrest and other vital information, then report back to the Wakandan Empire.Usually, they just observe, but Nakiya (Lupita Nyong’o) is a War Dog and is stationed in what appears to be Nigeria on a mission to rescue girls from a Boko Haram-type situation when we first meet her. She also travels with T’Challa and Okoye to track down Klaue. All War Dogs are identified by a tattoo inside their lower lip of Wakandan glyphs.

  3. Border Tribe ("the Rhino guys")

    Also providing Wakanda protection is the Border Tribe, who appropriately enough protects Wakanda’s borders. From the air they appear as simple cattle herders in the lower mountains of Wakanda, their brightly colored Lesotho blankets to keeping them warm. However, the blankets conceal all of their weaponry and the Vibranium woven into them makes the fabric double as shields. They also raise Battle Rhinos.

  4. Priests

    Always gearing Royal Purple, the Priests, led by Zuri (Forest Whitaker) are the sole caretakers of the temple and all royal rituals in the kingdom. They are herbalists, and botanists and the sole caretakers of the heart-shaped herb that gives the Black Panther King his powers.

  5. Mining Tribe

    The Mining Tribe is solely responsible for the Mining of Vibranium in Wakanda. Being that the ore is Wakanda’s most precious resource, the Mining Tribe is pretty powerful.

  6. River Tribe

    In the movie, the River Tribe has dominion over the water ways. During the Warrior Falls scene, we see Nakiya dancing and her father praising what might possibly be a water deity. Since the Panther’s ritual battle takes place on the water it would be in line with most African traditions to bless the water before one enters it.

  7. Merchant Tribe

    The merchant tribe is over the commerce and trade within Wakanda and is basically over the economic stability of the country. The Merchant Tribe elder also has a seat in the King T'challa's court.

  8. The Jabari

    The Jabari separated themselves and continue practicing the “old” Wakandan ways without technology. They live in the mountains of Wakanda and worship the White Ape deity. M’baku is their leader and in the comics was considered as powerful as T’Challa, even without the heart-shape herb.

"Why did they not help?"

It might be due to several reasons instead of 1. You need to remember that Wakanda is very large and one of the reasons they might not have come to help is because they might not have known about the fight that's going on. As far as everyone is concerned (at the point)

T'Challa is dead.

Only the Jabari and the Royal Guards who seen him in the flesh know he is still alive.

Also the Jabari originally refused to help because he did not want to risk his men's life to take back the Throne especially when" no King has been up here [Jabari Lands] for years" Meaning most past Kings didn't really care about the Jabari. T'Challa managed to convince him to help. The other tribes might feel the same way thinking it's not worth risking their peoples lives to save a King that Killmonger said 'wasn't strong enough' to protect his people.

Also the other tribes aren't allowed to just go against their King orders like the Royal Guards did. The Royal Guards found a loophole stating that

Technically T'Challa didn't die therefore the challenge to the death is still on

You must also consider that these other tribes aren't actually warrior tribes as well. The Priest tribe only look after the Heart Shaped Herbs and don't fight and the Merchants only sell their armies wont be powerful enough to combat the Border Tribe and Killmonger's Black Panther suit.

The Jabari tribe however separated themselves and stuck to old Wakandan traditions so they have their own army, they are like a country within a country. They isolated themselves from the rest of Wakanda making their own army and their own resources. They actually have warriors to fight and therefore can actually help T'Challa.

  • 5
    Wait, the lip tattoos are just for the War Dogs? I figured every Wakandan had one Feb 23, 2018 at 4:17
  • 3
    @Azor-Ahai even though in the film I seem to remember it being called a "war dog tattoo" I think they are given to, at least, all the wakandans who leave wakanda. E.g. T'Challa's uncle is definitely not a war dog.
    – minseong
    Feb 23, 2018 at 8:24
  • 3
    I have some doubt about the article. It says that "He used those powers to unite the other five tribes under Panther rule.", then "All accepted this decision except for the Jabari, (...) The leaders of all five Tribes provide counsel to the king". That makes 7 tribes (Panther+5 vassal tribes+Jabari). I guess that the War Dogs are not really a tribe: if they are the Wakandans secret police/spies, then T'Chaka's brother is a War Dog, but as the King's brother, he should be from the Panther Tribe...
    – Taladris
    Feb 23, 2018 at 18:18
  • 6
    The animated movie introduction said it were five tribes of which four united and the fifth went to the mountains...
    – Arsak
    Mar 3, 2018 at 6:38
  • 5
    I believe that article is incorrect, it's conflating Tribes with positions or organizations. For instance Priests are likely not their own tribe, but instead a role that can be taken outside of a tribe.
    – IronSean
    Mar 20, 2018 at 15:50

There are five tribes!

"Millions of years ago, a meteorite made of vibranium, the strongest substance in the universe, struck the continent of Africa, affecting the plant life around it. And when the time of men came, five tribes settled on it and called it Wakanda."
— N'Jobu - Black Panther 2018

The five original wakandan tribes, and what they do are:

  • The River Tribe - Fishing and Agriculture
  • The Merchant Tribe - Commerce and Trade
  • The Border Tribe - Border security (these are the 'rhino guys')
  • The Mining Tribe - Vibranium management
  • The Jabari - opposed Bashenga, and not aligned with the royal family

Each original tribe is associated to a location (except the original border tribe, who merged with a wider group of people but are still referred to as such).

There's a sixth modern 'pseudo' tribe called the 'golden tribe' who are all descendants of Bashenga the first Black Panther. But you can't join it like the other tribes, and I'm unclear if you become a member of this tribe on becoming a Black Panther or not.

The reason that the other tribes do not initially help is that they believe that Killmonger is the rightful king, and that T'Challa is dead. Only the Jabari, who know that T'Challa is alive, come to help.

The other groups mentioned in this answer are not tribes in the sense that they are associated to a location, or originated from the five tribes who originally fought over the vibranium meteorite.

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