The Sandbender Tribes are a loosely-organized group of tribesmen indigenous to the Si Wong Desert in the Earth Kingdom. They travel across the sand dunes through the use of sand-sailers. The sandbenders are divided into tribes, one of them being the Hami Tribe. Due to the abundance of sand in their homeland, they have developed a special style of earthbending that involves bending loose sand instead of solid earth. This technique bears resemblance to both waterbending and airbending.
In 100 ASC, a group of sandbenders kidnapped the Avatar's flying bison, Appa, who strongly resisted their capture. In his resistance, Appa caused the loss of a sand-sailer which the gang had stolen from the Hami Tribe. They later traded Appa to the beetle-headed merchants, who proceeded to sell him to a Fire Nation circus.
Days later, some sandbenders – among them the thieves that stole Appa – lost a sand-sailer in the desert, which Team Avatar recovered. At first, the sandbenders accused the team of theft, but Sha-Mo jumped to their defense. Toph recognized the voice of one of the thieves, Ghashiun, and deduced that he stole Appa. At first, Ghashiun denied this charge, but when Aang discovered that they muzzled the bison, he was sent into a rage and triggered the Avatar State. Fearful of Aang's rage-induced power, Ghashiun admitted his theft and stated that he traded the bison, who was probably, by that point, in Ba Sing Se. The sandbenders then offered to escort the group out of the desert.
Since economic opportunities are limited in the desert, sandbenders get by however they can. They have been known to scavenge for dead animals, or even steal from passing travelers at the nearby cantina.
Due to their living in the sun-drenched Si Wong Desert, skin cancer is a common ailment among the Sandbender Tribes.