A look inside one of the world’s last truly nomadic cultures Mongolia's Nomads. For millennia, pastoral herders have lived on the Mongolian steppe, moving with their livestock according to the seasons. But today, Mongolia is on the fast track for change: desertification and climate change are threatening nomadic life, destroying both herds and pastures. Meanwhile, with some of the world’s largest reserves in coal, copper, and gold, Mongolia is becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Nomads now face a choice that will shape the future of Mongolia: withstand the increasingly harsh weather and drying pastures, or give up herding in search of new opportunties. Already, tens of thousands have moved to Ulaanbaatar, the capital, where the ger (yurt) camps that ring the city now house permanent populations of displaced nomads living without running water, sanitation, or a tangible use for the herding skills they practiced on the steppes.
The Vanishing Cultures Project traveled to Mongolia to document the ancient traditions of nomads and to understand their current struggles. Proceeds from the sales of this documentary work will go back to the nomadic community to support cultural programs and initiatives.
The Vanishing Cultures Project partners with rapidly changing traditional and indigenous cultures to safeguard cultural values and practices, collaborating to document lifestyles and traditions, compile an open digital archive, educate the public about global diversity, and fund indigenous cultural initiatives. To find out more, please visit www.vcproject.org.
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Professor Jack Weatherford is a cultural anthropologist who has been teaching Anthropology at Macalester since 1983. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1967, with a B.A. in Political Science followed by a M.A. in Sociology in 1972. He also received a M.A. in Anthropology in 1973 and a Ph.D in Anthropology from the University of California, San Diego. He went on to post-doctoral work in the Institute of Policy Sciences at Duke University.
Dr. Weatherford has worked with contemporary groups in places such as Bolivia and the Amazon with emphasis on the role of tribal people in world history. The April 2000 issue from the Chronicle of Higher Education gives an overview of some of that work. In recent years, he has concentrated on the Mongols. His book Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World was an international best-seller published in more than twenty languages. In 2007, President Enkhbayar of Mongolia awarded him the Order of the Polar Star, Mongolia’s highest national award, in recognition of his contribution to Mongolian culture. His most recent work, The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, is the first book written on the daughters of Genghis Khan.
Nina Wegner is a freelance journalist, multimedia storyteller, and co-founder of the Vanishing Cultures Project. Nina’s work has been published in The Atlantic, the Huffington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Public Radio International, and other outlets. She is currently a contributor for the Huffington Post, where she writes a column on indigenous issues.
Nina received a B.A. in English with an emphasis on folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. After spending four years working as an editor and marketer for California book publishers, she returned to school in 2008 at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she was distinguished as a Newhouse Minority Newspaper Fellow. She received an M.A. in Journalism and worked as a journalist in New York, Florida, and Nepal. She is the author of two books, Mustang: Lives and Landscapes of the Lost Tibetan Kingdom, which garnered a foreword from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Mongolia’s Nomads: Life on the Steppe.
Taylor Weidman is a freelance photographer and co-founder of the Vanishing Cultures Project. Taylor’s work has been published by GEO, The Atlantic, NPR, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, and many other outlets. His coverage of overcrowding in the penal system of the Philippines was recognized by the Anthropographia Award for Photography and Human Rights and was exhibited in Geneva, Montreal and New York. His coverage of homeless families in Romania won the New Talent Award at the annual Travel Photographer of the Year competition.
Taylor graduated with a Master's in photojournalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University. After working at The Christian Science Monitor, Taylor left the States and completed a long-term photography project about the Tibetan Kingdom of Lo as a Fulbright Fellow in Nepal. This work led to his first book, Mustang: Lives and Landscapes of the Lost Tibetan Kingdom, with a foreword written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Vanishing Cultures Project partners with indigenous communities to safeguard cultural values and practices. VCP collaborates with these communities to document their lifestyles, educate the world about global diversity, advocate for indigenous rights, and empower communities. VCP donates a part of all book proceeds back to the documented community to help support indigenous cultural initiatives.
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