Montana State University

Yellowstone-Altai Project

Click here to view the Yellowstone-Altai Project website!

2014 Research

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Yellowstone (USA) and Altai (Russian Federation) Contrasting Mountain Systems: People and Place

Outcome
Montana State University Native American student researchers collaborate with Gorno Altaisk State University Native Altai students to identify similarities and differences between ecological, social and cultural components of their home mountain systems to improve ecological learning and resource management practices.

Impact/benefits of research or project
Not only are the Yellowstone and Altai mountain systems similar in ecological parameters such as climate, geology, animals and vegetation, but the Native people in both systems share a significant part of their genetic heritage.  The project demonstrates that human and natural processes are interrelated, as evidenced by the use of language and storytelling as connected to the environment in both mountain systems.  The unique use of Native language and storytelling among these Indigenous people to describe their ecological surroundings provide insight into how we can improve teaching and learning and help promote sustainable resource management practices.

Further info/interesting details
This project began in 2009 and will continue through 2016.  To date, the research team has conducted meetings with Native scientists, resource managers and educators to identify factors surrounding environmental education that can be used to enhance teaching and learning about these unique ecological systems.  Native language use is considered an essential element of improving educational practices among Native peoples in both the Altai and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  Along with learning about ecological topics, the project has contributed to better understanding of holistic resource management that can contribute to environmental sustainability practices.  For example, in the Altai system residents of villages within the Uch Emech Ethno-Cultural Park, which is located in the Altai system, help protect the natural environment where the residents of local villages live in and help protect the natural and cultural resources of their valley. While in Yellowstone National Park, Native people are being reconnected with the ecological and cultural resources found in the park.  In both systems, the preservation of Indigenous sacred sites is considered an important resource management issue. People in both systems can learn from the experiences of each other.

in the rain

Following lunch at a Russian meatball heaven, members of the MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research Team led by the Education Department's Dr. Michael Brody (front) take shelter from a Moscow downpour. The research team, currently working with indigenous people in Russia’s Altai Republic, will return to the US at the end of July.

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The MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research Team on Red Square. The team passed through Moscow on their way to Russia’s Altai Republic, where they will be working with indigenous Altaians until the end of July.

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Alexander Bogolyubov, director of the Ecosystem Educational Field Studies Center, indicates elements of a soils lesson being delivered to seated Moscow middle school students, for members of the MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research Team, standing. The team, currently working with indigenous people in Russia’s Altai Republic, will return to the US at the end of July.

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Alexander Bogolyubov, director of the Ecosystem Educational Field Studies Center, and members of the MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research Team (front) observe Moscow middle school students receiving a lesson in streambed geology. The research team, currently working with indigenous people in Russia’s Altai Republic, will return to the US at the end of July.

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MSU Liberal Studies/Environmental Studies major Sierra Alexander (2nd from left) joins other students participating in the International Youth Ethnocultural Forum held at Gorno-Altaisk State University, June 27 to July 2. Alexander and other members of MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research Team are currently working with indigenous people in Russia’s Altai Republic, and will return to the US at the end of July.

traditionalsierra clothes

MSU Liberal Studies/Environmental Studies major Sierra Alexander (3rd from left) joins other students participating in the International Youth Ethnocultural Forum held at Gorno-Altaisk State University, June 27 to July 2. Alexander and other members of the MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research Team are currently working with indigenous people in Russia’s Altai Republic, and will return to the US at the end of July.

group fire

The MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research Team and their Russian and Altlai language interpreters went camping in the beautiful Chulyshman river valley. The research team, currently working with indigenous people in Russia’s Altai Republic, will return to the US at the end of July.

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(Front to back) Jim Vernon (retired) Michael Running Wolf (Computer Science major) and Bill Freese (staff) by a tree adorned with sacred white ribbons at a scenic overlook above the beautiful Chulyshman river valley. Vernon and Freese are accompanying Running Wolf and other members of the MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research Team, currently working with indigenous people in Russia’s Altai Republic, which will return to the US at the end of July.

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Alexander “Sasha” Bogolyubov gave the visiting MSU Yellowstone-Altai Research team a tour of Ecosystem, a biology field school outside Moscow. Sasha is co-founder and director of the camp, which hosts middle school students from about a hundred Moscow public schools. The biological sciences were of little interest in the new Russia, where the trend is toward business-oriented degrees. Ecosystem allows Moscow city kids to have a few days in each season doing hands-on biology studies. There is a schoolhouse, but time in the classroom is prep for time in the field. Team members like MSU students Dawn Falcon and Avery Old Coyote observed the classes, and then followed students to a soil sample pit in the forest, a streambed geology site, and a riverbank where zoological samples were collected and identified. When the topic is birds, the Russian kids are out before dawn to hike and identify various birdcalls. Ecosystem started small, but is now busy all year, taking no holidays, with a waiting list of schools wanting to participate. One indicator of their success is a member of the faculty whose interest in biology was sparked when he was an early Ecosystem pupil.

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2013 Research

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Click on the photo to the left to read an article written in International Innovation about the project!

(International Innovation, published by Research Media, is the leading global dissemination resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities, dedicated to disseminating the latest science, research and technological innovations on a global level. More information and a complimentary subscription offer to the publication can be found at: www.international-innovation-northamerica.com)

Department of Education Professors Dr. Michael Brody and Dr. Christine Rogers-Stanton, along with two MSU students, were in Moscow, Russia making their way to the Altai Republic. The trip was part of a NSF grant funded program that works with a university in Gorno-Altayask and Indigenous communities in the Altai. The first few photos below show the group at a public school in the heart of Moscow, and the second half of the photoes show students in the Altai school. (The last grouping of photos is from a previous trip to the Altai Republic).


Moscow

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Altai

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