Altai Mir University

Together, we access peace by creating a knowledge bridge between ancient wisdom and today's world.
Mar 15, 2016

First Altai Myth CDs ready for tourist season

First public performance of Altai stories
First public performance of Altai stories

Traditional Altai stories, recovered from elders, told by Altai throat-singers, and visually depicted using exquisite sand-painting, are ready to be published on CDs in Russian and Altai. English versions are currently being translated. These CDs are a breakthrough in making sacred Altai lore accessible not only to ethnologists and visitors, but to Altai children as well. These stories are a critical link to maintaining traditional Altai culture.

"The group has worked for free for almost six months, and they would continue to work so," said project leader Svetlana Katynova. "Thank you for your contribution. It makes publication possible, so the project will be self-sustaining through sale of CDs." 

They are finishing "Wisdom of the Altai - from time immemorial." Now our group will work on a new project: "The Cradle of the Mother Umai" - "Umai-Ene Cabaye", dedicated to the patroness of women and children. "The image of this deity is very common in the Turkic world," Svetlana said, "but the Altai people have the most beautiful myths."

Jan 28, 2016

Onward, But What a Year!

International volunteers digging out the walapini
International volunteers digging out the walapini
     Last May, Lakota Project leader Christinia Eala took a team of Engineers without Borders from Colorado State University (EWB/CSU) to the property of Joe and Lena Fast Horse to build the foundation to build the foundation for the battery house for the solar array panel. Joe and Lena have been working for years to create a safe house for Lakota children. They are currently living in cramped, mold-infested federal housing in Wounded Knee.
     Tiyospaye Winyan Maka, Christinia's nonprofit organization, is starting the process of formalizing our relationship with EWB/CSU, who have excellent mentoring and guidance from  EWB/Professionals here in Fort Collins as well as EWB/USA headquartered in Denver.  Everyone is very excited about this. However, it rained almost the entire time the EWB team was in Wounded Knee, but they did get the foundation complete and installed a 350 gallon water tank. Unfortunately, three of the cars got stuck in the deep gumbo-like mud and Christinia's clutch got burned up while trying to get the car out.
     Then, with international volunteers arriving for the summer, Christinia learned that the entire contents of the project's Fast Horse camp had been looted. So…in the Spirit of always moving forward, she visited with Bryan Deans who has a ranch and homestead in Slim Buttes on the Pine Ridge Reservation. He has an organization called Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative. The volunteers spent their time working on his  homestead, where he is currently building a “Walapini” or underground greenhouse in order to have fresh vegetable year round. These projects are always viewed as model projects for the larger community.
     In December 2015 and January 2016, Christinia returned to Wounded Knee to reassess the Fast Horse site to determine how prepared the family was to move forward with the project and discovered that they weren’t as prepared as necessary to accommodate the international volunteers in the upcoming season. This is heart-breaking because the need for the safe house is so great and the Fast Horses have been working for so long and so hard to create it. 
     So, the project team will focus on Bryan Deans' projects again this summer, reinforcing his outdoor kitchen as needed, building one or two more “outhouses,” refreshing the solar shower, and clearing and maintaining the campground.
     We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support for this project through GlobalGiving.
Dec 17, 2015

Great progress on videos of Altai legends

Altai legends video screen shot
Altai legends video screen shot

When I wrote last, our Altai project leader Svetlana Katynova and her colleague Zhanna An were gathering the resources to make video presentations of Altai legends that Svetlana had documented by interviewing Altai elders.

They were in the process of contracting with some of Altai's world-famous vocal artists to tell the stories in Russian and Altai languages. Two of these recordings have now been made.

The visual part of the video is being produced with a remarkable process called "sand painting." The images are formed by the artist moving around sand that has been spread across a back-lit screen. The fluidity and expressiveness of the medium is delightful. A screen shot of a work-in-progress is shown above. The artist's hand is visible in the lower right quadrant, making the crane's wings.

Svetlana has received some government funding for this project, but unfortunately not enough to do all of the legends that they would like to present. Thank you for your contribution, which gets our team incrementally closer to this important documentation.

 

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