This is the answer to an urgent need that we've been working on for years! A BMW -2000 sedan has been donated to our working group in Gorno-Altaisk. It needs repairs, of course, as well as spare parts to keep it operational over the incredibly rough roads of the Altai Mountains.
The car solves a number of problems. It supports our culture-sustaining programs by enabling Svetlana Katynova to take young throat-singers to local festivals that are difficult and expensive to get to otherwise. It enables her to transport materials to Tyunger Village, where she does much of her humanitarian work; it's about 7 hours by car. By public transportation, it requires an overnight. Later this month, she will transport three singers to a contest in Ulagan district.
Svetlana's husband Sasha, who is in his mid-sixties, was never able to get work other than manual labor despite a degree in philology (because of racial discrimination against indigenous people). He has been an electrician, working in construction of new high-rises. It's grueling work, outside in -30 winter weather and 35+ summer weather, schlepping coils of cable up multiple storeys. Now, he will use the car as a taxi driver during the summer tourist season.
Your support will be leveraged well. Right now, the exchange rate for the ruble is particularly good for donations.
Amazing! Coming back from heart surgery, Christinia is pulling together resources and volunteers for another season. She's loading her old car and a rental truck to the groaning point with donated supplies. Beginning April 24th, she and a team of volunteers will be laying this season's groundwork for the off-grid children's safe house.
One day, while I was visiting our Altai partner Svetlana Katynova, she took me into the forest a stone's throw from her house. She showed me a small marker in a clearing and explained that this place -- Ulalinsky Camp on the bank of the Ulala River -- is an ancient archeological site. It contains evidence of human occupation and use in the form of stone tools very similar to those used by the African Olduvai culture.
Discovered by Okladnikov in the 1960s, the site has been dated to the Lower Paleolithic era (approx 690,000-1.5 million years old). The site is included in the list of cultural and historical sites of the Russian Federation, but has never been fully excavated -- nor protected. For decades, Svetlana has been lobbying various governmental bodies in the Altai Republic to protect this site. On the attached map of Gorno-Altaisk, it is the forest patch on the lower right. The Ulala River is the green squiggle and the center of Gorno-Altaisk is on the left. Ulalinsky Camp is about a mile from the city center.
Archeological work in Altai Republic has always been a source of contention between the indigenous Altai people and the Russian mainstream, especially since the discovery, excavation, and removal of two perfectly preserved 2,500-year-old mummies from permafrost on the Ukok Plateau in 1993. Altai people consider their lands to be sacred, and that disturbance of their archeological sites called "kurgans" disrupts the stability of the Earth. Research has shown that these sites are indeed electromagnetically active. Only after long and strident protests did the Altai people finally succeed in having the "Ukok Princess" mummy returned to Altai just last year. But she is not yet re-interred, as they have demanded, but a moratorium is in place preventing further excavation of kurgans.
This month, Gorno-Altaisk Mayor Victor Oblogin met with the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, to begin planning of the Ulalinskaya Camp Museum Complex.In the past twenty years, the study of archeology has shifted globally to be more respectful of the heritage rights of local peoples. Ulalinsky Camp predates the kurgans by hundreds of thousands of years however, and Altai National Museum is being consulted regarding this site, so hopefully excavations will be carried out in a culturally sensitive way that is agreeable to the indigenous Altai peoples. 100% of your support of Altai Mir University goes toward Svetlana's efforts to protect cultural heritages like this. Thank you for your continuing donations.