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.
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.