The Mountain Valley Tribe
This paper focuses on a Tribe that due to some circumstances had to move from living near the ocean with other Tribes to an isolated life in a valley high in the mountains. The Tribe has settled in a mountain valley and did not communicate with any other group. The people have led a settled life and were growing crops and kettle along with haunting for game. The two areas of descriptive analysis include the development of the Tribe and its’ culture while living in the mountain valley and the Tribe’s reaction to the natural disaster that has happened after many centuries of the life in the mountains.
In the process of adaptation the physiology of the Tribe has changed in order to be more suitable for the new weather conditions. The weather in the valley was generally colder than near the sea, which meant that at first the Tribe has changed the type of clothes they were wearing, but in generations the appearance of the Tribe members has also changed. They have developed thicker body hair, as well as men began to grow facial hair, which wasn’t typical for the Tribe’s life before the valley.
At the beginning of their life in the valley the people were faced with limited space for crops cultivation. Therefore, at first horticulture was the only possible way to support the Tribe’s existence because people had neither advanced tools nor the land available thus the crops could be cultivated only at a small scale. After settling down, the Tribe has moved from horticulture to intensive agriculture by creating an irrigation system for the newly created fields, and moving to the more complex agricultural tools. Over a century through the process of anthropogenesis the Tribe has adapted the land to its’ needs by destroying half of the valley woods and turning the land in the vast territory for agricultural practices. With the domestication of mountain animals the Tribe had to create pastures, which resulted in more and more trees being cut down.
The Tribe had a very strict division of labor not only between men and women, but also between people of different ages. The main task for young man was the haunt for game, while the older ones were focused on agriculture and growing crops. Haunters spent a lot of time in the mountains because with the constant growth of the population there was not enough game I the valley. This division of labor between men of different ages served as a form of natural selection leaving only the strongest and smartest men to form families and breed. Even after the Tribe has learned to grow kettle, haunting for game remained an essential cultural element and served as an initiation process for men. The lives of women of different ages revolved around the household.
Although the age and sex division of labor was very strict in the Tribe, the community members were at the same time involved in a number of common activities. The main aim of such work was to keep the feeling of unity and commonness in the group. Such unifying activities were female preparations of the game brought by men. These activities involved all the members of the Tribe: men were watching the process while women were cooking. Therefore, the Tribe members cultivated cooperation not only within one household, but also on the general level of the Tribe.
Within one closed community there was no need for money. Reciprocity was the main form of exchange of goods and services between the Tribe members. The exchange of goods and services in the Tribe took a form of a custom and became a form of generalized reciprocity, which resulted in constant exchange of goods and services between the members of the Tribe. The type of products or services shared has never been as important as the fact that a person contributes to the community and is thus expecting that the community will as well support this person.
The division of labor among the men of different ages has led to the specific type of family in the Tribe. Due to the large number of females, polygyny was the main form of family relations, which meant that men had a possibility to marry more than one woman. The number of women varied depending on the popularity of the man and his ability to provide for the family and keep the wives happy and satisfied. This also included the interpersonal relationships between women because it was the man’s task to keep all the family members on friendly terms. A conjugal bond between a man and a woman established by marriage was respected not only by the society, but also by all the other wives of the man. All wives were perceived as equal.
Taking into consideration the limited number of the Tribe members, it is obvious that endogamy, such as a marriage between in-laws or distant relatives was a common situation. After a number of generations spent in isolation all the Tribe members became somehow related, thus it was impossible to avoid endogamy. For centuries the members of the Tribe have no new people entering the community, which has made the group a very closed one. It is notable that incest still remained a taboo.
Polygynous families of the Tribe, which consisted of the man, his wives and their common children, could reach significant numbers, with twenty members of one family being only an average number. While the father was working in the field cultivating crops and adult sons were hunting for game, women took care of the younger generation altogether. Although being born from different mothers, children in the Tribe got the same loving and nurturing attitudes from all wives of their father.
Despite the division of labor, women still had a strong role in the society because they constituted the majority of the tribal population. Moreover, while men were providers, women were not only taking care of the household, but also rising the new generation. The nurture of children was considered to be the most important task in the tribal community. Therefore, although women and men had different spheres of labor, they still remained equal members of the community.
With the Tribe’s prosperity and agricultural success the population began to grow, but, despite that, there was no significant social stratification in the Tribe. Although there was a division of labor, it relied basically on the age factor, which meant that each of the Tribe members had to go through different developmental stages. What is significant, there was no professional specialization and each member of the Tribe was able to do all the same tasks as others.
While the people were spending a lot of time in the mountains with high avalanche risks, they had a very developed gesture-call system. This body language gave the Tribe a possibility to communicate and understand each other at quite long distances without talking. Although the Tribe did not develop a full-fledge sign language, they’ve learned to pass more than 98% of information in the non-verbal form. At the same time, due to the common need to contain a definite level of noise, the paralanguage of the Tribe was underdeveloped, because sounds were secondary to movement. Instead of expressing emotions by laughing and crying out loud, people used various sets of gestures. By giving much attention to the gestural component of language, the Tribe has developed a very complex set of kinesic messages.
Taking into consideration the valley territory limited by the mountains, it is obvious that the Tribe members have formed their peculiar perception of space. While the major part of the valley was used for resources, the Tribe members lived on a small territory in one community. People were leaving the community only when they required providing for the family and the community. Otherwise, all the life was on the small territory of the Tribal town. The space limitation as well as the basic desire to stay close to each other on the unknown territory have created very interesting proxemics of the Tribe - each person required almost no personal space.
With calm and prosperous life the Tribe’s population began to grow at significant speed. The carrying capacity of the valley was being slowly exceeded with the growing city and slowly exhausting natural resources. With the growing need for food resources and the territory limited by the mountains the Tribe was experiencing a need for more resources. But before the ecological catastrophe this exhaustion of food and other resources was not very obvious.
The event that has changed the life of the Tribe is a natural catastrophe caused by external conditions. The overall warming of the planet’s atmosphere has caused a massive melt of icecaps. It was a fast process, which resulted in an immense flooding of the valley. After the first case of flooding, the same disaster repeated each spring with the level of water rising each time higher and keeping the valley flooded for longer periods of time.
Control over sexual relations was introduced in the Tribe after the catastrophe. In order to decrease the population growth people have limited a number of children born in one family. While polygamy still remained the main form of family relationships, each woman had a right to have only one child. This was one of the steps towards the decrease of the Tribe’s resource consumption.
The changed natural conditions required a significant alteration in the division of labor. More help was required for the growth protection of crops and kettle, thus women also got involved in the process of providing food for the family. Usually married women have joined their husbands in the field, while the young unmarried ones took care of the household. This was a practice for young women before marriage.
The ecological conditions that complicated the process of growing crops have led to the boost in the Tribe’s technological development. In order to protect the existing resources, the land and own households people had to work out new ways of coping with the flood. Therefore, the Tribe’s irrigation system was updated and changed, people have mastered sophisticated constructions of canals and have even changed the architecture of their own homes by using spiling in the structure of houses.
The requirement of more complex architectural structures and some basic engineering knowledge has not only stimulated the technological advancement of the Tribe, but has also led to the growing specialization of labor. It was a time when very specific knowledge was required in order to build a house, barn, or an agricultural construction. Therefore, along with hunters and farmers, a new group of workers was created. On the contrary to the mentioned two, this type of work was neither sex nor age specific. The main thing that was taken into consideration was the ability of a person to construct long-lasting buildings.
The Tribe was trying to adapt to the new natural conditions. Despite all the changes introduced in the society and the technological development, the Tribe was not able to continue living in the valley. The game was almost gone from the forests and agricultural activities required much contribution but did not provide sufficient results. When it was clear that the Tribe cannot survive in the valley and will only keep decreasing in numbers, it has left the valley in search for another place in the mountains.