You are here

WEEKS 7-9: The Big adventure

WOW!! My mind has been blown by the cultural immersion I have experienced in the last three weeks! The first week we started out with meeting with an agency in Moscow called RAIPON.  They are an agency that advocates and takes care of policy  for indigenous populations within Russia.They shared much of their work with indigenous population as well their willingness to have an partnership with Jon and OHSU. According to RAIPON, they have received an immense information pertaining to  mercury and the rivers in Russia.  Later that day, I got to experience red square and boy what excitement.  I could not believe I was experiencing all this history just by addressing an environmental issue such excess mercury in the major rivers and estuaries.  The next day we traveled to Yakutsk and met with the Deputy at the Ministry of Environmental Protection.  I learned that many indigenous population rely on the top of the rivers for drinking water when in reality that the water is only good for fishing.  There is program that is implemented in Yakutsk called citizen concern.  Any one person can receive information on the quality of the water is by sending the ministry a sample of the water through citizen concern.  According to the Deputy, mercury is one of the biggest issues in the Yakutia Republic. The ministry's goal is to allow for economic growth without destroying the water.  We then got to learn about the history of the Jew's Harp. Wow what an interesting musical instrument so hypnotizing. Each jew's harp has a different tone. The following day we met with the Minister for the Ministry for Federative and External Relations who informed us that they are working with a company in India to get solar energy to nomadic areas of the Sakha Republic. Both the minister and deputy are both eager to create projects in the following years and support research on the Lena River. We also got meet a man named, Kliment, who runs a camp for kids and adults to get them to break out of their shells and know their potential through music.  He gave us fermented mares milk and boy that was different and quite an experience.  These kids at the camp were so wonderful and quite the singer.  I also witnessed them give offereings to the fire which is paralleled to my culture as well as touched my heart in such a strong way to see other people give thanks for a meal.

Next, we were on our way to Zhigansk.  I got to go in the cockpit of the airplane on our way Zhigansk while we were in the sky.  Wow what a beautiful view of the city just sitting from the driver seat.  I got to see the dirt roads wind through the city and it excited me, I miss the dirt from the reservation. We finally landed and from there we were greeted with caribou and what looked like mini frybreads (imagine my excitement to see food like home). That afternoon we got meet with an official who explained their concerns with the water as well as some improvements to the city such as a new regional hospital, the creation of a hatchery, and a new government building.  We also went to an after school center where children gave presentations on cultural and engineering research that they conducted at the center and in the community.  In the next days we went to Costatum which is another indigenous population about a two our boat ride from Zhigansk. They welcomed us in with big arms. The Ivenki showed us around their town. First starting with their museum, then to their auditorium and then we met their oldest community member.  She made the most beautiful traditional clothing and beadwork.  I wanted to get my hand on their traditional shoes, they looked so warm! The next day we went to a caribou camp where I got to ride a caribou.  I also got to see the similarities in indigenous people in Siberia to those from my reservation.  It was wonderful! Their traditional housing look very similar to my cultures traditional housing. The next couple of days we got to talk to many elder groups who in the end showed me how to bead and boy what an experience that was. In the end, we watched performances on traditional dancing. It was so pretty to watch and be apart of. What an adventure and jet lag is a real thing.