Air Nomads is a collective term for a nation of people who practice the discipline of airbending. One of the four major nations, the Air Nomads were wanderers by definition, but had four air temples, one at each corner of the globe, hidden away atop mountain ranges in the northern Earth Kingdom and on three remote islands. The theocratic Air Nomads were home to a monastic order of men and women who practiced airbending. Unlike the other nations, the people of the Air Nomads were, without any seen exception, all benders due to the high level of spirituality of their people. The Air Nomads were a peaceful race who were wiped out by the Fire Nation. They lived in large temples and traveled the world on flying bison. They were the most spiritual of all the cultures and lived in harmony with nature. They also were fun-loving and had a strong sense of humor. The Air Nomads made up the smallest of the four nations in the world. They had a small economy, based entirely on limited agriculture. The population of the Air Nomads was small compared to even the Water Tribe and was far smaller than either of the world's two major powers, the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom.
In 0 AG, the Air Nomads were the victims of genocide at the hands of the Fire Nation. Ironically, the sole known survivor of the massacre was the very person the Fire Nation sought to kill in its quest for supremacy: the twelve-year-old airbender and Avatar, Aang, who had run away from the Southern Air Temple shortly before the Hundred Year War began and became trapped in suspended animation in a globe of ice along with his lifetime friend, Appa. One hundred years later, he was awakened and released by Katara and Sokka, who helped him succeed in his quest to restore balance and peace to the warring nations.
After the Hundred Year War, Aang found several flying bison and ring-tailed winged lemurs. Elsewhere, a group named the Air Acolytes was formed to carry on the teachings, culture, and traditions of the Air Nomads. Having restored the buildings to their former glory, they occupy the air temples, along with the newfound flying bison and ring-tailed winged lemurs. Forming the new Air Nation, they also had a representative on the United Republic Council, a spot held by an Air Acolyte and later Tenzin until 171 AG.
In 171 AG, after the Harmonic Convergence, nonbending individuals across the world began manifesting newly acquired airbending abilities. Tenzin began to train a group of airbender volunteers into a new generation of Air Nomads, in order to fortify a still recovering Air Nation and to perpetuate the bending traditions of its culture. After the insurrection of the Red Lotus, Tenzin decided that the Air Nation would roam the world, helping people of all nations to stop corruption and disorder. In 174 AG, the new Air Nation continued to prosper, as more and more people who gained airbending abilities were trained in the art on Air Temple Island
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