40% of Mongolia’s population are Nomadic. They have been nomads for centuries living with their animals , eating their meat, making clothes and other materials out of their animal skins. Almost everything they do on daily basis is related to their animals. They migrate from one place to the next always for better pasture for their animals and sometimes for lower altitudes or higher altitudes depending on weather conditions. In summer they migrate to higher altitudes which we call Summer place and migrate to lower altitudes in winter for Winter place. In summer, women milk their animals and make dairy products which they stock for winter as well so that they have enough food and calcium during the whole year until the next summer season. Animals give birth in spring and it is one of the hardest season for the nomads as they must save as many baby animals as they could to increase the number of their livestock. Summer however is their best season that everyone can enjoy themselves attending different ceremonies and festivals such as Naadam the three manly sports where they do archery, wrestling and horse racing. Nomadic kids however study at schools, whereas some of them tend to continue their studies and become engineers, doctors etc some prefer to stay as nomads quitting schools after 5th grade or 8th grade staying with their parents and continue to live as nomadic. Nomadic kids stay in dormitories in small villages where they belong territorially and study at boarding schools.
Tsaatan Tribes ( Reindeer tribes)
Mongolia has several nomadic tribes. Tsaatan tribe also called Reindeer tribe lives in most Northern Part of Mongolia in Taiga, where it is bordered by Russia to the North. There are 2 Taigas where this tribe lives, West Taiga and EastTaiga. In West Taiga, there are about 50 families living in these Taigas who are still maintaining their culture and lifestyle living with their reindeers. This tribe lives in Teepees all year around. Reindeers is their main source of income, consuming dairy products, consuming their meat and making things from their skins and trophy. Tsaatan tribe are shamans religiously like all Mongolian nomads before 14th century, they pray to Nature, sky, water, earth and fire. This tribe was able to keep their religion for centuries. They migrate about 6 to 10 times a year with their reindeers, riding and loading their reindeers looking for better pasture for their animals. It is one of the most amazing tribes in the world. They speak Tuvan language also called Tsaatan language and most Tsaatans speak Mongolian too. Some Tsaatans are Shamans and can do Shamanic rituals. Best time to visit this tribe is from June to September when the weather is warm.
Eagle Falconer tribe
Mongolia also has Kazakh eagle falconers tribe, living in Far West of Mongolia, Province called Bayan Olgii. Eagle falconers ( eagle hunters) has been maintaining their lifestyle and tradition for last 2 thousand of years. They live like other nomadic tribes in Mongolia only difference is that they hunt with their eagles. They catch chicks from eagle nests and bring them home, train them for 2 years and start hunting with their eagles. They also catch wild eagles from nature and train them to hunt. But using wild eagles to hunt sometimes has more risk of losing them while hunting. Because those come from wild nature has more willingness to go back to where they come from rather than a chick that is brought up and trained while they are young. Wild eagles are better hunters of course. Kazakh eagle falconer tribe are also nomadic people who migrate from summer to autumn place, from autumn to winter place, from winter to spring place, same as other nomads in Mongolia. Hunting with their eagles, they catch foxes, pallas cats, marmots, rabbits and ground squirrels etc. They sell what they hunt and make it an income for themselves and their families. Hunting with eagles is also a type if sport that the tribe has been doing for so many centuries. Kazakhs are moderate Muslims.