Side note: Please disregard what I said in the last post. As soon as I was back among trees and forests I was home. The desert is a nice place to visit but I don’t want to live there.
So…do you have a tribe? Nomads use the term “tribe” to describe a group of friends or like-minded people who they relate to, travel with, and depend on. Society has lots of names for the special groups which people form: crew, squad, gang, clan, family. Tribe is one that modern nomads have appropriated because of the connotation of a wandering band of people.
The word tribe itself means “a social group existing outside of or before the development of states. A tribe is a group of distinct people, dependent on their land for their livelihood, who are largely self-sufficient, and not integrated into the national society.” -Wikipedia
In the American past, there have been several groups who were known as tribes, in the sense of being modern nomads. The band The Grateful Dead had the Deadheads, a small army of fans who followed the band on their tours and set up vendor tables in the parking lots as a way to earn gas money. There was a group called the Rainbow Tribe who originally did social services for hippies and others, but have lately declined into a dirty bunch of druggies. The Diggers were based in the Height Asbury neighborhood in San Francisco and were prominent at Woodstock.
Modern-day nomads usually live off the grid, meaning they do not use buildings or public utilities to survive. They are indeed self-sufficient. Using RV’s, vans, tents buses, or cars, they can cook, sleep, bathe, and live quite contently using camping tools and methods. They do not necessarily live off the land; however, some do forage for food.
As for not being integrated into national society, most nomads consider themselves to be distinct from “regular people.” Of course, those regular folks sometimes think of nomads as vagabonds, hobos, even outlaws. There are actually places where living in a vehicle is illegal. Sad for those who are truly homeless. Nomads are not homeless. They prefer the term “houseless.”
In nomad culture, there are many concepts. My house has wheels is a popular one. Another is that all are welcome into the lifestyle. I saw this in action during my time at the RTR.* I bonded with a group who were all parked around me. We became our own tribe.
Since we had a campfire every night, we called ourselves The Fire Council. Every evening someone would propose a subject or two and we would go around the circle letting each person comment, tell a story, or offer an explanation. We discussed favorite road trips, told about our favorite relatives, confessed an unusual experience, offered an amusing situation in our life, and even complained about insects that caused us grief.
But it was the people who made this experience a joy for me. There was Jerry, who was the unofficial moderator. He made sure that each newcomer was introduced and accepted. Dave was the cook. He made breakfast and supper for the group. Every day! He said he just loved to cook for people. Mary and Donna were camped on either side of me. Diane was across the road, as was Doug and Mike and Mark and Marianne and Tim. And then there were the French Canadians. A group of them came together. They were all members of a Facebook group for Quebec Vandwellers. Several others joined in each day. The final group numbered about 20. A tribe indeed.
Even though we had different life circumstances, we bonded over the joy of being able to live our lives the way we wanted to. The open road called to each of us in our own unique way. Whether we were single or married, workers or retired, young or old, we found comfort and companionship in the common feeling of freedom.
*Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, refer to CheapRVLiving.com/gatherings for an explanation.
**If you enjoy finding out how words came to be and what they contribute to today’s culture, see my other blog called Word Love at www.ejgresearch.com.