The Sandbender Tribes are a people indigenous to the Si Wong Desert in the Earth Kingdom, divided into several tribes such as the Hami Tribe. Named for their special style of earthbending that involves bending loose sand instead of solid earth, the tribes have adapted to their hostile and barren homeland by becoming nomads, traders, raiders, and scavengers. They travel across the sand dunes through the use of sand-sailers and guide themselves using the stars and the desert’s unique magnetism.
Economy & Education
Since economic opportunities are limited in the desert, sandbenders get by however they can. They are known to steal from others, though raiding is considered dishonorable. Despite the scarce resources, sandbenders are not above offering hospitality to people wronged by other sandbenders. They maintain contacts with both the beetle-headed merchants and Earth Kingdom settlers around the desert, especially those at the Misty Palms Oasis. While the traveling merchants eagerly buy the goods sandbender raiders have stolen, the tribes’ relationship with those from outside the desert is strained and uneasy. They are not usually well-received by outsiders because of their reputation as thieves and bandits.
In Genji’s Time
The sandbenders largely avoided the political upheaval that occurred during Kuvira’s coup. However, following the creation of the new Earth Federation, President-General Bao Jun came to power. Burdened with immense national debt and a broken economy, his administration was desperate for a solution to the Earth Federation’s financial troubles. Rich deposits of oil and precious ore were discovered under the Si Wong Desert, and the government seized key regions to extract and refine these natural resources, displacing the sandbender tribes in the process. Tribes were forcibly relocated to the slums of nearby cities, resulting in the loss of traditional lifestyles, cultural identity, and tribal cohesion. Some sandbenders protest the unfair treatment of their people and endeavor to reclaim their homelands, but few people listen to them because of the long-standing stereotype that sandbenders are thieves and bandits. This has resulted in a substantial number of sandbenders who resent and hate the Earth Federation’s government, creating an opening for the Red Lotus to recruit new members to their cause.