The short Siberian summer is over and the snow-line is creeping downward toward the valleys. Svetlana made good use of the car that was donated last spring, taking promising young throat-singers to festivals where they can be immersed in the threatened Altai culture. But it is not only the youngsters who benefit from the gatherings of the clans; when long-time activists like Svetlana get together, they join forces to bring forth new opportunities.
For years, Svetlana and our old friend Zhanna An have been collecting myths, legends, and fairy tales with the intention of publishing them. This work is time-critical because the elders who remember the times before the Soviet destruction of Altai's indigenous culture have almost died off. Svetlana has wanted to make an e-book and Zhanna has wanted to make videos with sand animation.
Zhanna has recently been working at radio "Voice of Siberia," which planned a project called "Legends of Altai," but it was never made. Now, working together, Zhanna and Svetlana have fully selected the text and they are negotiating for recording studio time. Readers have been selected from among National Theatre actors, teachers, internationally recognized traditional musicians Nogon Shumarov and Bolot Bairyshev, and of course Svetlana's young proteges.
Svetlana says that the planning is all happening around her kitchen table. We're grateful for your continuing donations. They contribute toward communication and transportation costs, both of which take a big chunk out of the shoe-string budget.
Nobody said that building housing at Wounded Knee would be easy. But, by golly, the spirit is willing. In early May, Christinia took a group of enthusiastic Engineers Without Borders student from Colorado State University to the site, along with supplies to build a battery house for the new solar power system that has been donated. Only to find that the building site had been pillaged. Approximately $7,000 worth of equipment had been stolen: our kitchen/supply tent, our trailer to haul things, even Christinia's project car(!) -- all gone. On top of that, the head gasket in the project truck blew. Then the rains came down and Christinia's other car got stuck in the mud and blew out the clutch. Time to re-group. We're still short of money to fix the truck, but Bryan Deans of the Oglala Lakota Cultural Economic Revitalization Initiative rescued the car and has provided an alternative project for this summer's international volunteers. They are building a ‘walipini’ (an Aymara Indian word for a “place of warmth”) -- an underground greenhouse that can grow veggies through the bitter Dakota winters. When you dig down four feet, the temperature stays more constant. A glass lean-to captures and stores the daytime heat. It is built similarly to an earthship house, using tires in the foundation. Bryan has adapted several styles to create an original design for this greenhouse. We'd like to use Brian's design and include a walipini every place we build, not only to grow organic food, but also as a tornado shelter should the need arise. But for this summer, starting over as we had to, we need to raise $1000 for materials for the walipini. And your continuing support is critical as we get the Fast Horse child sanctuary back on track for next year.