A female member of the nomadic Tsaatan tribe crouches next to a reindeer she is milking
Nomads are leaving their anti-technology ways

Think:Act magazine "On being human"
Nomads are leaving their anti-technology ways

Portrait of Think:Act Magazine
Think:Act Magazine
Central Europe
29 november 2018

Nomads in Mongolia led a traditional, anti-tech lifestyle. Until recently, that is.

article

photos by Ronald Patrick

For many centuries, nomadic people like the Tsaatan reindeer shepherds in Mongolia have been living their lives unchanged and in partnership with animals and nature. Theirs is a life of basic needs and survival – and only recently have technology and legal interference started to have an impact and change their aspirations.

Rising early

A young female member of the Mongolian Tsaatan reindeer shepherd tribe stands outside of her teepee with her husband behind her

Camp in autum
From her teepee, which she shares with her husband and son, 22-year-old Anka Bayr points out to the reindeer herd. Her first task this autumn morning is to milk the reindeer.

Hunting skills

A male member of the Mongolian Tsaatan reindeer shepherd tribe sits with his hunting gun

Under threat
Since the government made the nomad territory a national park in 2013, hunting has become limited, which is a problem for the nomads who depend on what they catch for survival.

Call of the wild

Members of the Mongolian Tsaatan reindeer shepherd tribe stand on high ground with mobile devices looking for a signal

Leaving messages
The Tsaatan have mobile phones, but need high ground to get a signal. Such modern gadgets are at odds with their shamanistic ritual offerings to nature.

Herd instinct

A female member of the nomadic Tsaatan tribe herds a group of reindeer through a field

Ahead of the pack
Caring for reindeer is tough work. Some families are ensuring that one child does not have to take on the hard nomadic life and pursues education instead.

TV in the teepee

A child and two adult members of the Mongolian Tsaatan reindeer shepherd tribe watch TV inside of a teepee

Soap opera society
Mongolian soap operas have become popular in the camp. Some nomads aspire to the way of life depicted in the stories and many are leaving their traditional life behind to live in the city.

Milkmaid

A female member of the nomadic Tsaatan tribe crouches next to a reindeer she is milking

A women-only job
Milk is a fundamental part of the nomads' diet but with the new hunting restrictions the Tsaatan are forced to slaughter some of the herd for food too, diminishing their livestock numbers.

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Portrait of Think:Act Magazine
Think:Act Magazine
Central Europe
  • Photos Jack Richardson; Winni Wintermeyer; Jeanne Detallanteon