View of Wakanda in Black Panther

What Are All the Tribes in Wakanda? All Wakandan Tribes, Explained

Every tribe is unique (if color coded for convenience)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dove deeper into Wakandan culture than any previous Marvel film, showing us the wider breadth of people and traditions that exist within the fictional African country.

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Specifically, Wakanda has many tribes living within its borders and, while some are more relevant than others, all of them draw inspiration from different real-life cultures in Africa. Here are the all tribes in Wakanda and their real-world inspirations explained.

Golden Tribe

Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa and Letitia Wright as Shuri in Marvel's Black Panther

The Golden Tribe, also known as the Royal family or Panther Tribe, is the descendants of Bashenga, the first Black Panther. As far as we know, every ruler and Black Panther in Wakanda’s history has been of this tribe. This is the tribe of T’Challa, Shuri, Queen Ramonda, King T’Chaka, Prince N’Jobu, and the tribe in which N’Djaka aka Erik Stevens/Killmonger would have been raised. They are, of course, affiliated with the colors gold, black, and purple and their animal is the Black Panther.

Being that they are more of a family than a tribe, they don’t have a culture exactly, but they do share many cultural influences with the other tribes, though perhaps they have the most Egyptian influence of the tribes, seen in their clothing and accessories, due to being a long-ruling African nation.

Border Tribe

The Border Tribe in Black Panther
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

The Border Tribe is the tribe in charge of keeping the borders of Wakanda secure and during the first movie, appear to hide themselves in plain sight from foreigners by pretending to be hunters or farmers. T’Challa’s former best friend and Okoye’s husband, W’kabi, belonged to this tribe. They are affiliated with the color blue, a sigil which is the Lesotho symbol for “horsemen,” and breed White Rhinoceroses, which they use in combat. They draw inspiration from the Lesotho people of Southern Africa.

River Tribe

The River Tribe in Black Panther
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

The River Tribe is the tribe of Nakia, T’Challa’s lover. It’s not entirely known what purpose the River Tribe serves, but it presumably involves the river that runs through the country. They are affiliated with the color green and the river crocodile, and are loosely based on the Suri and Mursi Tribes of Ethiopia.

The J’abari

M'baku of the Mountain Tribe in Black Panther
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

The J’abari or the Mountain Tribe are led by M’Baku. They are the most isolationist of the tribes, and differ from the others in many ways; they speak in a Yoruba dialect instead of Xhosa, appear to worship Hanuman, the gorilla god, rather than Bast, the panther goddess, and reject Vibranium, preferring to use weapons of wood and leather instead. As such, they are affiliated with the colors of white and grey and the silverback gorilla. They are also vegetarians and are inspired by the Karo tribe of Ethiopia and the Dogon people of Mali.

Merchant Tribe

The Merchant Tribe in Black Panther
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

The Merchant Tribe are the artisans of Wakanda and are responsible for the clothing and art of the country. Their color is dark blue/purple, and they are based on the Tuareg people of the Saharan and Sahelian regions.

Mining Tribe

The Mining Tribe in Black Panther
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

The Mining Tribe is, presumably, responsible for mining vibranium. Their colors are orange and red, their animal is the lion. The tribe is based on the Himba and Maasai People of East Africa.

Unofficial Tribes

Dora Milaje in Black Panther
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

The Dora Milaje are not exactly a tribe, as they are the King’s guard and appear to be made up of women from many different tribes in the country, but they are often treated as separate from the other tribes and proclaim their undying support and loyalty to the sitting ruler, whoever they may be.

They are based on the Dahomey Amazons, the elite woman army featured in The Woman King (2022). Their uniform features many African inspirations such as armbands and neck rings from Ndebele women, and the general aesthetic of the Maasai, but also feature inspiration from international spheres, such as Japanese jika-tabi boots and the beadwork / tassles from Phillipino Ifugao decor.

War Dogs in Black Panther
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

The War Dogs are Wakanda’s spies and, like the Dora Milaje, are made up of volunteers from multiple tribes and mark themselves with a tattoo on the inside of their lower lip. They appear to ultimately answer to the King/Queen and the Gold Tribe. Prince N’Jobu and Zuri are former War Dogs, and Nakia may have been a War Dog during her time abroad, though her focus was more on helping disadvantaged Africans abroad rather than gathering intelligence.

Shamans in Black Panther
(Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

After retiring from being a War Dog, Zuri becomes a Shaman who tends to the purple Heart-Shaped Herb that gives the Black Panther their strength. We don’t know if there’s a formal group of Shamans or Wise Women who tend to the Herb, but after Zuri’s death, Killmonger orders the total destruction of the herb.

(featured image: Marvel Entertainment/Disney)

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Kimberly Terasaki
Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.