Traditional and Contemporary Adaptive Strategies

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Background Information on Adaptive Strategies

The Bedouin have used animal husbandry and pastoral nomadism as their primary means of survival for 2, 500 years. Their primary goal is searching for lands that are abundant with both grass and water. These resources are vital to both the herders and the herds, making knowledge of the seasonal changes that affect pasture and water location. Contemporary nomads (since the 1960s) have used trucks in place of camels to supply water to the herds (Countries and their cultures).
Due to the Bedouin’s nomadic nature, they do not produce specialized work such as metal or cured leather. This leaves them to depend on outside sources such as gypsies and other traders (Countries and their Cultures).
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Traditionally the Bedouin had to secure grains and produce that is farmed through a variety of ways. Some would harvest crops if their lands were near rain-fed cultivation. Another way of getting grains was trading with local farmers for their protection and security from attacks from other tribal groups (Countries and their Cultures).

The Bedouin depend largely on familial bonds. This is both a traditional and contemporary aspect of their culture. While the Bedouin live a nomadic lifestyle, this doesn’t exclude every type of settlement. The Bedouin have claims to lands that have somewhat defined limits including their pasturelands and their seasonal homes. Traditionally, the Bedouin arrange together in kin-based households that journey together. This movement tends to happen around the spring and summer months, while the winter months are spent at shelters that can be either temporary or permanent (Countries and Their Cultures).
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Normally, the Bedouin would settle in tent shelters (called buyuut) in campsites of as little as three shelters to as many as 15 shelters. As some Bedouin groups have begun to stay settled in once place consistently every year for the winter, the tents have been upgraded to stone dwellings (called buyuut hajar). These huts are sometimes not even fully deserted during the spring and summer due to elderly tribes people and very young children staying behind. These people stay behind to take advantage of the government assistance that is being provided to some Bedouin groups now. Services such as health care and education have been introduced into some of these communities. (Countries and Their Cultures). Others haven’t been recognized and assisted.

Adaptive approaches differ among the Bedouin depending on their location. Variations do exist among the different Bedouin groups. For example, the Bedouin in North Africa show differences in movement schedules, and their tent or stone dwelling are mostly similar to those of other Bedouin groups. However the shape is rectangular and the house is divided up based on the spheres of the women’s place, the man’s place and then an area for animals (Countries and Their Cultures).

Due to economic and political developments the Bedouin have had to adapt their lifestyle. Many are still animal herders, but some have had to settle more permanently. The Bedouin have traditionally avoided settlement and sedentary work, but have been forced to acquire these skills to survive in the new political and environmental conditions. (Encyclopedia Britannica Online).