An ethnic group is defined as a group that sees itself, and is seen by others, as being distinct as a result of a:
- long shared history,
- shared set of customs and traditions,
- common ancestry,
- common religion,
- shared language
and often being subject to oppression and discrimination.
…..complete the praiseworthy task of knowing Travellers, and let them be known as they really are and not as they are so ungenerously imagined to be. Study their history, their psychology, their language, share their joy and their suffering and it is at this price that you can help them achieve their calling in the church and the world.
John Paul II, 1990
Travelling is a fundamental part of Traveller identity. Nomadism entails a way of looking at the world, a different way of perceiving things a different attitude to accommodation, to work and to life in general. Nomadism is as much a state of mind as a state of fact. Many of our values such as the family network and the support systems it provides are directly related to it.
Travellers have a different culture to settled people. Nomadism is a key aspect to this particular identity. Their distinct culture can be seen in their dress, accommodation needs, way of working, language and accent, ways of organising family structure and use of symbols. However, there are parts to culture that go even deeper and are more difficult to see. These include their view of the world, values, use of time, use of power, gender roles, beliefs, hopes and fears, moral code and attitude to life.