The Permaculture and Three Epochs Curriculum

Posted on | December 17, 2009 | No Comments

F. Men in pastoralist societies usually acquire prestige and power by being brave and successful in predatory raids as well as by accumulating large herds of animals. Teenagers and young men often are the community’s bachelor warriors. They usually do not begin to acquire their own herds until they become elders. As a result, there are often great status differences between young and old men. It is the older men who marry the young women. Polygamy is a common pastoralist marriage pattern. Current politics, cultural practices, social order?
G. Pastoralists have often been successful conquerors of agricultural societies
1. This has been especially true of the Mongol horse pastoralists and the cattle herders of East and South Africa. The Mongol light cavalry-based armies with their powerful short bows rapidly conquered China and Central Asia in the 13th century A.D. During the 14th century, they also seized control of Persia, Iraq, much of Russia, and the northern parts of South Asia. Beyond this vast area, the threat of their invasion caused many nations to pay the Mongols large tribute payments. Does this still happen? What has changed in the world in regard to this?
2. In East Africa, pastoralists established important kingdoms from Uganda and Rwanda to South Africa. Perhaps, the most famous African pastoralist conquerors were the Zulus. During the 1830’s, they began an intermittent war with the Dutch settlers of South Africa (i.e., the Boers) after defeating several African farming peoples. The Zulus were finally subdued with great difficulty by the British army in 1879.
H. The pastoralist success in war has been due to several things.
1. They usually have the ability to operate in a large social context and to accept the absolute authority of their leaders.
2. They value extreme bravery and train their children accordingly. Pastoralist armies can easily wage prolonged wars because they are independent of lines of supply from home bases.
3. The Mongols took their herds of horses to war with them. In fact, they rode their horses into battle. Pack horses carried their tents and provided much of their food (in the form of mare’s milk). This meant that the Mongols had highly mobile cavalry units. They also let their herds loose to feed in the farm fields of the people they conquered. Not only did this fatten up their horses, but it also economically weakened their enemies.
I. A modern form of pastoralism is practiced by cattle and sheep ranchers in Western North America, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and a few other areas of the world. However, these ranchers are not subsistence pastoralists. They are businessmen who produce a commodity for national and international markets. They also use mechanized equipment such as trucks and even airplanes and helicopters in their work. Despite the differences, there are major similarities in the way of life and personality between modern and traditional pastoralists. Both approach the world as high risk takers. Their livelihoods can quickly be lost to theft, diseases, or other natural disasters. On the other hand, their herds can double in a few years making them rich.
J. Some researchers believe that pastoralism followed mixed farming (rainfall-dependent agriculture with animal husbandry). The increased productivity of irrigation agriculture ultimately resulted in population growth and pressure on resources, which lead to greater land and greater labour requirements for intensive farming.
K. Marginal areas of land were often all that was left for animal rearing. To acquire enough forage, large distances had to be covered by herds. This resulted in a higher labor requirement for animal tending. As a result of the increasing requirements of both intensive agriculture and pastoralism, the two practices diverged and specialization took place.
1. Pastoralism takes place mainly in marginal areas, where cultivation (and the higher energy achieved per area) is not possible.
2. Animals feed on the forage of these lands; an energy source which humans cannot directly utilize.
3. The herds convert the energy into sources available for human consumption: milk, blood and sometimes meat
L. Another theory is that pastoralism derived directly from hunting and gathering (see outline segment I): Hunters of wild goats and sheep already had knowledge of herd dynamics and the ecological needs of the herd animals. These groups were already mobile, and followed wild herds on their seasonal round. The process of domestication began before the first wild goat or sheep was tamed as a result of the selective pressure of hunter prey-choice acting upon the herd. Wild herds were selected to become more manageable for the proto-pastoralist nomadic hunter and gatherer groups, in order to become fully fledged pastoralists.
M. There is a common conception that pastoralists exist at basic subsistence. This assumption is not true; groups often accumulate wealth and can be involved in international trade. Complex exchange relationships exist with horticulturalists, agriculturalists and other groups; pastoralists rarely exist exclusively with the products of their herd.
N. Pastoralism is a subsistence pattern in which people make their living by tending herds of large animals. The species of animals vary with the region of the world, but they are all domesticated herbivores that normally live in herds and eat grasses or other abundant plant foods. Horses are the preferred species by most pastoralists in Mongolia and elsewhere in Central Asia. In East Africa, it is primarily cattle. In the mountainous regions of Southwest Asia, it is mainly sheep and goats. It is often camels in the more arid lowland areas of the Southwest Asia and North and East Africa. Among the Saami people (or Lapps) of northern Scandinavia, it is reindeer. Some pastoralists in northern Mongolia also herd reindeer. While the Saami mostly use their reindeer as a source of meat, the Dukha people (or Tsaatan) of northern Mongolia milk and ride their reindeer much as other Mongolians do with horses


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