Altai Mir University

Together, we access peace by creating a knowledge bridge between ancient wisdom and today's world.
Jan 14, 2015

Off-Grid Systems Seminar for Pine Ridge Reservation Family Safe House

Joe Fast Horse and foster child
Joe Fast Horse and foster child

In November, we held a one-day workshop in Fort Collins, CO, to demonstrate how efficient and low-cost housing, electricity and water systems can be designed, installed, and maintained for families who need them most and can least afford them. Our organization, Tiyospaye Winyan Maka collaborated with the Sustainable Living Association, Buckville Energy, and Engineers Without Borders Colorado State University Chapter.

The workshop focused on bringing together integrated off-grid solutions for the Fast Horse family of Wounded Knee, SD, enabling them to move off the grid to their own land—far from the mold-infested government housing—to build and maintain their own sustainable homestead and safe house on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The class designed sustainable solar, wind and water systems enabling Oglala Sioux family to build homestead on their ancestral land. The systems designed by the class will be installed by Tiyospaye Winyan Maka volunteers starting in 2015, and hands-on installation classes will be offered on the site.

The Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest regions in America with an average per capita income of under $6,500, 80% unemployment, and 49% of residents living below the Federal poverty level; 61% of those people are under the age of 18. Every aspect of life on Pine Ridge is affected, leading to substandard housing, unhealthy foods and eating habits, inadequate transportation, lack of childcare options, alcoholism, gang violence, and domestic abuse.

Tiyospaye Winyan Maka (translated “Extended family of women of the Earth”) is a nonprofit organization headed by Executive Director Christinia Eala to address these issues with inexpensive and sustainable solutions including efficient green building techniques, water catchment and purification systems, solar and wind electric systems, organic gardening and food preservation, local cottage industries, eco-tourism, and simple community classrooms where these ideas can be spread to others.

“We are a strong, beautiful people here with a proud history, who now live in third-world conditions inside one of the richest nations on Earth,” Eala said. “Our goal is to demonstrate to others in our community that with shared knowledge, experience and resources we can break out of this tragic legacy of two centuries of colonization together, and forge our own destinies on our ancestral lands.”

The Fast Horse family safe house is currently an emergency placement home for foster children, and Joe and Lena Fast Horse volunteer for the Tiyospaye Crisis Center. They currently have nine children under their guardianship.

We greatly appreciate your continuing support. It makes our work possible.

Dec 9, 2014

ancient Altai musical instrument rediscovered

The epic hero Shunu rescued the Altai people from a dungeon by playing the 7-stringed dyadagan---a musical instrument out legends. Remnants of the instrument, unearthed from a kurgan in 1939, were recently rediscovered at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. A local Altai artisan of traditional instruments attempted a reconstruction of the 2500-year-old instrument, but the sound quality falls short.

As part of Altai Mir University's ongoing efforts to revive the venerable Altai culture, our Altai project leader Svetlana Katynova is organizing a research project to analyze the fragments, in hopes of reconstruction an instrument worthy of the legends. The dyadagan was hollowed out from a piece of solid wood, was wrapped with a thin piece of skin.

A legend tells of a Khan of Altai who had seven sons. When an invasion wiped out all of his people, he made his seven sons into a musical instrument and hid it in the cleft of the mountains. The instrument absorbed all the sounds of nature and could play by itself, emitting marvelous melodies. There are many related legends from Altai oral history, including one about a constellation of seven "men of power."

Recently, I was sent a video shot next door to Altai in Mongolia where the music is in the same tradition. The video is in Dutch, but the music is fabulous, showing the richness and the international impact of the musical renaissance we are fostering in the Altai Mountains. The link is attached.

Thank you for your continuing support for such valuable projects.

Links:

Oct 14, 2014

Progress made!

Fast Horse temporary safe house
Fast Horse temporary safe house

Joe and Lena Fast Horse run a "safe house" for Lakota children, even though, with a leaky roof and rampant black mold, the cramped house in Wounded Knee would not be considered safe by most standards. You have been supporting construction of a truly safe home for their children on a beautiful hillside overlooking Pine Ridge.

The logistics of building on the Pine Ridge Reservation are daunting: the nearest hardware store is five hours away; volunteers are ready to help, but depend on donated tools and building supplies.

The Fast Horse family urgently needs to get out of their mold-infested house before winter. This is a good-news, bad-news story:

  • The bad news is that the house is not ready.
  • The good news is that a big house-trailer was donated this fall.
  • The bad news is that it needs eight new or gently-used tires before it can be transported.
  • The good news is donations from you and others will enable the Fast Horses and the nine children in their care to have a safe place to live this winter.

Just being out on the land instead of in a dilapidated village will renew their souls during the long winter ahead. And then, next spring, building of the permanent structures will continue with renewed enthusiasm.

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