Nomadic Peoples: A Case Study of the Batek People of Malaysia
Pp. 266-273 (8)
John Alan Cohan
Nomadic people lack a home base, except for temporary encampments, and have the tendency to roam
at will. They display resourcefulness and the ability to quickly adapt to new circumstances. They are
tremendously sensitive to the environment around them, and have the ability to get on with very little. The Bateks
of Malaysia call themselves “forest people,” living in the forests, gauging their movements according to huntinggathering
needs. They believe that if no one lived in the forest, the world would come to an end. They subsist on
plants, animals (including fish and monkeys), wild tubers, yams, fruit and honey. They sell or trade honey, rattan
and other forest products to Malay traders. They hunt monkeys and other small game with bamboo blowpipes
with darts tipped with a poison made from sap. The Bateks are reluctant to uproot themselves into government
settlements or otherwise integrate into modern society. Still, some Bateks now live in permanent settlements
where they plant crops, while spending part of the year foraging for food and collecting rattan and other forest
produce for trade.
Western State Law School USA.