Your donations have been supporting Altai artists to create videos of Altai legends using the medium of "painting" with sand on a light table.
In an effort to improve their professionalism, they have reached out to the Carolyn Leaf of Canada, who is a pioneer in such painting. She recommended that they develop the skills, not only to make images with the sand, but to actually animate their images through manipulation of the sand. For that, our team will need better equipment as well as seed funding.
So our Altai project leaders have been not only investigating opportunities for such funding within the Altai Republic governmental ministries of culture and tourism, but also reaching out for international grants and fellowships. Here in the US, we are supporting this effort by using grant databases to search for likely funding sources. We have been encouraging them to use a business model---selling their DVDs to tourists---in addition to their philanthropic model.
This work is important because of its global implications. Many Native Americans recognize Altai as the starting point of their journey across the Bering Straits. Altai legends are therefore important not only to the indigenous peoples of Russia, but also of the Americas.
Thank you for your ongoing support. It makes a huge difference.
Life expectancy on the Pine Ridge reservation is the 2nd lowest in the Western Hemisphere - second only to Haiti. Poverty is rampant, with average annual incomes around $3,000. We have slowly made progress over the past many years, helping families establish safe and viable homesteads on their ancestral lands and develop sustainable lines of income through cottage industry.
In our continuing search for ways to adequately fund this project, we have been offered a true gem.
One of our most promising areas is the development of a business plan that would build a strong foundation for the beautiful, artistic bead and quillwork that many families create together to sell during tourist season. Their businesses are small and seasonal, their income dwindle down to almost nothing during the late fall and winter months.
Over 30 years, company founder Susie Cotcher built a large and successful beading and quillwork business www.truewestmagazine.com/beadwrangler-makes-magic/. Susie passed away this past spring. Though there are other substantial offers to buy the business, before she died she made it clear that she wanted the business to be sold to the women of the Lakota nation, living in poverty at Pine Ridge, even if it meant giving a substantial portion of the company's value as a gift.
We are now raising the capital needed to carry on this profitable and culturally-strengthening business endeavor. Your continued support is hugely appreciated!
Our project leader Svetlana has organized an eclectic exhibition of images of the goddess Umai, who is the Queen of Heaven in Altai lore. The collection of images from different artists will be shown this month at the annual Altai cultural celebration, El Oyin.
Additionally, five stories have been recorded in Russian and Altai language and illustrated using a unique and beautiful sand-painting technique. Those five stories and five more have been translated into English and professionally edited by a native speaker of English.The videos are being put on DVDs and will be marketed during the summer tourist season and proceeds will pay for the professional services of the artists. They will also be made available to schools, to aid in teaching English and Altai language (which was almost obliterated during Communism).
Your donations are paying for the out-of-pocket costs that have enabled the projects to move forward. Thank you for your continued support.