Hunter-gatherer societies are the most egalitarian societies known; since the group size is rarely more than one hundred to two hundred, there is no room for sexual division of labor or social strata because everyone must look out for each other. Men hunt while women and children gather roots, leaves, fruits, eggs, seeds, and trap small animals. Males and females are recognized as different but equally important; since hunting is difficult and unpredictable, the women provide about 80% of the food. While women could hunt, that they nurse babies and small children keeps them from joining stressful, difficult hunts; gathering plant foods is far easier on the women and children. While the men must use sign language and hand signals to communicate while hunting, the women are free to chat with each other as they gather all manner of plant products.
Foragers depend heavily on the reproductive capacities of their territory and the local climate/ ecosystem must change very little, if at all; a tiny shift could mean disaster.
Where foragers eat at least 200 species of plants and a similar number of animal species, industrial cultures barely eat a tenth of that; foragers are far healthier while farmers now live with very little crop diversity and are thus vulnerable to famine and have lived close to animals and exchanged pathogens with them.
Women in foraging societies have the most autonomy; women’s control of production, marriage, and reproduction is the norm in hunter-gatherer groups.
Hunter-gatherer groups include the Bushmen, Mbenga, and Hadza peoples of southern Africa; the Yupik and Gwich'in of Alaska; the Beaver Nation of Canada; and numerous indigenous tribes in Indonesia, Australia, and the Americas.
Many of America's First Nations have been forced to leave hunter-gatherer lifestyles, including the Miwok, Ohlone, Chumash, Paiute, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Penobscot, and the many Plains Nations.