Bedouin Society

Topics: Bedouin, Israel, Negev Pages: 10 (3177 words) Published: January 15, 2006
The Bedouins, a nomadic people of the Middle East, are an indigenous people just as any other indigenous people around the world, striving for economical, political, and cultural autonomy. Even living in the harsh environment that the Middle East is, with the political and religious clashes between countries and even the deadly environment, which the Middle East is known for, the Bedouin people still continue to live with so much diversity surrounding them. Unfortunately since the 1970's, the Bedouin people are in a clash with the Israeli government concerning land rights and the assimilation of the Bedouin people into the Israeli society. Nonetheless, the Bedouin people still strive for the self-sufficiency and self-determination, so that they can continue to live in their own traditional ways. This way of life, the traditional way of life, without surrounding societies controlling their (the Bedouin) everyday lives, is what the Bedouin people want, and it is what they deserve. Economic Organization


The land our tribe pastures in hit us with drought,
Leaving there nothing to gain;

With her stick she beat us till we up and got out,
Concerned lest the strength of our swift camels wane.
(Bedouin Poetry: From Sinai and the Negev)

The primary subsistence and economic activity for the Bedouin people is "animal husbandry by natural graze and browse of sheep, goats, and camels" (Galy 43). Unlike most societies around the world, where the majority of the income of the people is through businesses, markets, and even the internet, the Bedouin people pursue a different course of economic business which is common in third-world countries and nomadic tribes around the world; pastoral nomadism. This economic way of life for the Bedouin people surrounds this idea of pastoral nomadism has been in existence for at least three millennia.

The root of pastoral nomadism encompasses the basic idea of migration, which is "the pattern of which is determined by a combination of seasonal and a real variability in the location of pasture and water" (Galy 43). However, since water and adequate pastoral areas are in short supply, the survival of the herd and herdsmen themselves are endangered every day, as the migration to new and hospitable land is necessary. If land and/or water are unavailable for the herds and herdsmen, tribes of the Bedouins can fail. Since it is one of their primary ways of producing income, by having a failure, it would be catastrophic to their economic structure. Furthermore, water and general grazing areas are rarely found in random areas around the Middle East; however, they are generally dispersed in a normal fashion in accordance with a particular seasonal pattern of the climate (for example, during the wet seasons of the Middle East, more areas of water will be present, and during the dry season, less areas of water are present).

Even if there are adequate areas of land for grazing and efficient water holes around their area of living, there are still other variables, which destroy this primary economic phase. Unfortunately, initially starting during the 1960's, trucks and other motor vehicles "have come to replace camels as beasts of burden; today a truck serves to bring feed and water to the herds in the desert" (Galy 44).

Another important aspect to the economical life of the Bedouin people is the basis of trade amongst themselves and other tribes in the area. There are numerous means exploited by the Bedouin people to guarantee themselves access to food, water, and other essential produce.

One form of producing food for the household is through sowing and harvesting their own produce. This aspect is only applicable if the household is "close to enough to rain-fed cultivation" (Galy 44). If no water is available for watering the crops, this form of fabricating foods is useless. However, if the households were within a passable distance of an oasis,...
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