(re)finding "tribe" and place

From historical examples, a tribe only exists because related individuals choose to stay together, whether staying in the same place or moving, no matter how far away or to what bioregion. Here and elsewhere, there is much talk about the importance of strong relationships and belonging to tribes. Few if any of us have been born into a group thinking of themselves as a tribe. It seems like one of the most difficult obstacles is the reluctance to relocate closer to others. I can empathize with the sentiment of not wanting to move out of the bioregion that one was born in: I personally could not see myself living outside of the arid southwestern US/northern Mexico, even though I could just move to Washington or Oregon and find all the rewilders I could hope for. At this point in my life, the only people I would consider anything close to being the same tribe as me are A) unaware that they have tribal ancestry at all (potentially, hundreds of thousands of people may be descended from the now defunct tribe I identify with), B)already my family (just two of my brothers are interested in rewilding related things out of my whole family), C) getting preoccupied with jobs, or D) the one person who is enthusiastic and spends plenty of time with me has muscular dystrophy and relies on machines to live, so he is stuck relying on technology and The Civ for the rest of his life.
I am seriously considering abandoning my choice of bioregion in favor of human companionship. I noticed that some others on this forum are also trying to rewild through germanic ancestry. Can we all move somewhere together? ANYwhere. I keep thinking about building a tribe out of the ashes of the old ones, since there are (as far as I know) not enough people descended of my chosen tribe who want to live tribally. Celts/pretty much anyone else welcome!
Anyone else know of anyone trying to resurrect old tribes/ start new ones from related people?

I think the common threads linking people together in a tribe (a “people”) are: the experience of living daily life together; sharing a particular way of life (the “how” of life); and sharing a particular worldview (way of looking at the world/philosophy/set of beliefs). Traditionally another major element has been shared ethnicity/family ties, and while I think that will still be a factor in the future, the fragmentation of families and the cultural “melting pot” aspects of modern life have largely negated that.

It used to be that there was a direct connection between one’s physical/genetic family/tribe and the cultural way of life and worldview everyone shared (and the experience of living closely together), but nowadays that link has been pretty much completely broken for most of us. Therefore, as rewilding individuals begin to coalesce again into new tribes, I think for the most part we will be coming together on a basis of shared worldview and daily life, rather than ethnicity or family ties. Also, I think those of us that share a non-civilized worldview are so few and far between, that if we tried to restrict our tribes to those who have a particular ethnicity, we would have a very hard time actually making it happen.

The one area I think we need to be particular about is that of shared worldview. From everything I’ve heard about intentional communities, everyone needs to be on the same page in this key area (similar viewpoints/desires/needs/values) in order for the community to work (to not eventually fall apart).

I’ve felt the desire to be part of a tribe my whole life. My biological family is so small, reserved and unattached, and it has always been completely unsatisfactory in terms of my dream of a tight-knit community.

My husband’s dream is to buy many acres where both of our immediate and extended blood-related families can live together in a protected and self-sufficient lifestyle. I see that as a good beginning, except as bereal points out, a similar worldview is important, so we would be counting on blood to trump our widely varied perspectives. I’m not sure how that would work out.

I understand that it feels dangerous to invite “others” into the group, and by that I mean people outside of your family (and some people would extend “family” to be members of their own ethnicity) but it seems equally dangerous to me to blindly trust someone of your own ethnicity or immediate bloodline not to undermine, sabotage or even outright pillage your own tribal arrangement, you know?

My dream is to have the large piece of land where a tribe of like-minded individuals would live as a family, and if that were to include committed members of our own family and ethnicity, great, but that the criteria for inclusion would extend to people of any description with a demonstrated commitment to mutual support of a similar lifestyle of off-the-grid living.

All of what you have both said is well and good, but there is a minimum number of people needed to form an internally stable and self-sufficient culture. How big are groups of rewilders of any description? IMO the smartest thing to do is to group together as many as possible, at least 800 or so, on land not wanted for much of value to the technological societies, but having a healthy enough ecosystem to begin with that can be cared for and encouraged to bear more that is good to eat.
Where can you think of that meets those criteria. Better yet, am I missing any criteria (“ownership” of the land?)?

The root of tribe is family. Re-finding a tribe is about reconnecting with your actual family and starting to repair it. Otherwise, you’ll just continue to carry your family problems with you and just reenact them with a different group of people. I don’t think it’s about finding people who think the same way we do, it’s about working through our already existing relationships and family ties and rewilding them.

Peter, I agree that rewilding/repairing our existing familial relationships is an essential aspect of building the foundation for a new culture - if we want that new culture to not have all the same problems as the old one. I don’t think that in and of itself will do it, though. In other words, I think we also need to relearn how to live in true community with others (i.e. sharing our daily lives together, collectively relearning how to live sustainably and locally in relationship with the landbase, etc.). They can totally both happen at the same time - however, I feel that many (if not most) people’s relationships with their families don’t allow for living in a healthy community with them. First and foremost, I think this is because as hard as we try to heal these relationships, there is only so much one person can do without the equally active participation of the other - and in many cases, our family members won’t be willing to do this. So this will preclude many of us from being able to actually live in a healthy community with members of our family.

For example, in my case I have a generally great relationship with my parents - as long as I don’t challenge my dad’s feeling of entitlement to exert authority over the rest of us. Calmly asserting myself as an equal to him - challenging the hierarchical arrangement itself - tends to result in all hell breaking loose. I feel that the only way for him to live in an egalitarian community with others would be to clearly establish rules for decision-making and boundaries of acceptable behavior, and consequences of non-compliance (so that he isn’t just allowed to act however he wants with impunity like he currently does in our family). Honestly, I don’t know if he would be willing to agree with this, and change his behavior accordingly (he has indicated in the past that he wouldn’t). And unfortunately, since his behaviors are rooted in a particular worldview and way of relating to others, changing his behavior would require a massive reworking of these other areas as well. Would he be willing to commit to the major inner work this would require, and accept the guidance from others that would be necessary?

My dad is in no way unusual - I think he just exhibits the normal attitude and behavior for men his age in our society. And it’s not like women don’t also tend to have behaviors and attitudes that prevent healthy relationships - my grandmother and mother are also cases in point. Most intentional communities end up falling apart due to interpersonal conflicts, even when comprised of people with similar worldviews and goals (which most of us don’t share with members of our biological families).

Realistically, as civ collapses people will be forced to start living communally with others - in most cases, the people who just happen to be around them. But because those communities won’t be created with a common goal in mind, other than simple survival, I think most of them will end up being rife with conflict and unhealthy (hierarchical, abusive, racist, sexist, etc) dynamics. Yes, I think many people will learn, over time, how to work through those issues and get to healthier place. And I understand that the work of helping communities to do this is essential, and something that many people will feel called to do. I personally would do what I can in this regard, when the time comes. But my inner vision is to join with others in community NOW (not waiting until we are forced together by circumstance), living mostly primitively (actively relearning the old ways, adapted for our times), around a shared vision of building the foundation for a new culture to replace the old, that is based on healthy (non-civilized) ways of living and relating. In this regard we would be leading the way for those who will be forced into community later, by giving them an example to follow, and wisdom acquired through learned experience.

Yes… family can be tough to deal with, but other people just as much if not more so - even if ‘like-minded’! I come from a large family and honestly love, family gathering and all are usually the most fun I have all year. I’m currently pretty much alone from family out here now, and am seeking to relocate near my fiance’s family (as that’s where she is living). I’d much rather stick it out with family anyhow, because that’s what family does, watch out for each other - in a way… haha. You know, the old ‘keep it in the family’ bit. I actually find that my family is a LOT more like me than I think, I mean… they did raise me - and here I am… 2500 miles away!

This is why I specifically mentioned “germanic” ancestry - we already acknowledge a common ancestry. We dont have to think about “is this person close enough to me that I would adopt them?”

This is getting mixed results in my immediate family. I havent been in much contact with much of my extended family (on both sides) because of a few, petty arguments that resulted in noncommunication (similar to excommunication) for decades. In one case, my father’s mother didnt hear of her brother’s death until more than a month after the fact. I never met him. I have some cousins somewhere who may never have heard of me because of this rift. I made it a point to contact relatives who I hadnt spoken to much and went to the wedding of one who I met the day before the wedding. I dont hold grudges myself, though. I just dont. Most of the time, when the other person seems like they have moved on, the friendship keeps on like nothing happened. I forgive. I try to talk things out when it seems like it would be helpful. What more can I do??
A strong community means not just being friendly, but having a strong, internally sustaining culture, with heros from the past to look to for guidance, with mentors who inspire children to be great trackers or healers or what have you, and most importantly - it must be a large enough and insular enough community that the children are taught by those within the community, not by TV or billboards. The Amish are a fairly good model, but have been losing their hold on the education of their children.

The root of tribe is family.

Thinking more about this, I totally agree. I just don’t think that family necessarily = blood relatives. Instead, I feel that what makes people family comes from the heart - and it’s totally possible to have heart connections with people that become as strong (or stronger) than those we have with our blood relatives. The most obvious example of this is when people become intimate life partners, and choose to “start a new family” together. Looking outside the box the same way as I do regarding romantic relationships, I think we can form just as strong of bonds with non-relatives without the sexual commitment.

When I think of joining with others to form a true community, I envision exactly that kind of a deep, committed bonding from the heart. The few friends that I have that with, I would die for them the same that I would my family, and I feel they are every bit as much “my people”.

1 Like

My views have changed a bit since I first posted this topic, so I’ll repost my thoughts from a recent thread on the facespace group:
The main problem as I see it is that personal relationships are taken as tribal relationships. You personally have friends and they stay your friends or they dont and when they dont, they stop having any kind of relationship to you. Whereas in a tribe, your friends may not always be your friends, but they will have that larger group to still identify with. There will still be council meetings, community ceremonies, etc that you could encounter them at. If you are in the big city and encounter a former friend who is not in your tribe, both of you ignore the other; if you are in the same tribe, there is still camaraderie that sets you apart from the crowd. Another thing is that tribes have either A) a shared history, which manifests as an origin story for the group or B) multiple tribal ancestries that are intentionally or unintentionally mixed into a single hybrid culture (see the Brazilian Maroon villages for a great example of this. Also, the Occaneechi tribe). I think we all assume option B is the only route available. However, people like the White Marsh Theod are thinking similarly to me: most of us have tribal ancestries that are similar to large numbers of other currently tribeless people. If we, like the Occaneechi, find people who honor similar ancestors as ourselves, we can form larger organizations that go beyond friendship. What do we see tribal people doing today? Not everyone lives on the rez, but they remember who they belong to. I think we dont have to be so strident about keeping to a single landbase, commune or set of companions. Rather, we should work towards having national or international networks of people of similar tribal backgrounds and organize almost like clubs, with chapters (bands) in multiple locations that communicate, coordinate efforts and elect councils/leaders. These organizations should be useful to their members in some way - perhaps pooling healthcare costs, giving low or no-interest loans to members, organizing trading and gifting between members, and having yearly parties/meetings of some kind.
The first step, as I see it, is to connect those with similar tribal ancestries, almost regardless of geography. If there are people near you who fit the bill, definitely spend time with them! However, the focus should be on creating the larger organization that your friends can still identify with, regardless of whether you still hang with them. Personal connections are actually not what tribes are about - they are about shared ancestry that is thought of as an extension of the family unit. By creating tribe, you would be choosing your family, which some might see as contradicting the saying, “You can’t choose your family.” In this case, you simply acknowledge relations that already exist. The first step is to formalize connections we have online and in person into an organization that exists firstly online and only incidentally in person. After the organization exists, we can begin to form physical community or communities, with members free to associate with whoever they want within the organization, wherever they are.
I do believe that people less invested in traditional life-ways, if brought into a group of traditionalists, will become by osmosis more traditional. Community standards and values can highly constrain behaviors deemed unsavory and encourage those deemed good. To get to that point, there should be a community to start out. If one person alone tries to get a group to conform to their ideas, it doesnt (usually) work out very long. To create the group, we need to have similar people coming together, such as we have here and on the main rewild forum (though societal constraints in virtual communities is limited). I believe further subdivision into ethnic/cultural groups is needed to re-indigenize each group of civilized people. The Celts focusing on Celtic cultural revival, the Slavic people focusing on Slavic cultural revival and etc., with mixed people mixing their various traditions, if needed and desired. There is plenty of precedent for those of known mixed tribal ancestry to honor some traditions from their ancestors who were not part of the group they now belong to.

1 Like