Nomadic Lifestyle: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:00 Nomadic Lifestyle Definition
  • 1:05 The Plains Native Americans
  • 1:33 The Eurasian Steppe & Russia
  • 2:14 Nomadic Lifestyle Importance
  • 2:39 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the nomadic lifestyles of our ancestors and the cultures who still practice it today. Perhaps the oldest form of human civilization, Nomadism is very different from today's Western culture.

Nomadic Lifestyle Definition

We take many things for granted in modern America. Nearly all Americans have a home of some sort; be it a studio apartment or a mansion, most of us go back to the same place at the end of each day. However, this is not true for all of the world's population today, and it certainly was not true for our earliest ancestors. There are still tribes in the Eurasian steppe, Africa, and even Europe who live as our ancestors did: as nomads.

The nomadic lifestyle is likely the oldest form of human society still practiced today. Generally, nomads are people and tribes who do not consider themselves attached to a specific plot of land. Though nomadic societies have their own laws and customs, they do not practice and have little knowledge of Western property rights. Nomadic civilizations move from place to place and region to region depending on variables such as climate, season, availability of water, and the movement of animal herds. In order to better understand nomadism, let's take a look at some examples throughout history and some examples from today.

The Plains Native Americans

The indigenous civilizations of the Plains region of North America consisted of dozens of nomadic tribes and cultures. Prior to the arrival of European settlers in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Plains cultures followed the great herds of American buffalo which fed on the grasslands that covered the region. These peoples never erected permanent dwellings, preferring to live either in makeshift huts erected from grass and mud, or the hide and wood 'tipis' often seen in common representations of Plains cultures.

The Eurasian Steppe and Russia

Tribes and families of nomads are still commonplace today in the Eurasian steppe - an enormous region of flat grasslands similar to the North American plains.

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