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Luke Oppenheimer | Kyrgyzstan

Myrbek (20) moves calves back to the family herd in the intermediate summer Jailoo (alpine pasture). Naryn Region, Central Kyrgyzstan. June, 2018.

In the highly globalized world of the 21st century nomadic communities around the world have adapted and persisted in incredible ways, mixing millennia old traditions and practices with modern technology. My project has one simple question; “How do nomads, our oldest historical continuum from prehistory, live in the 21st century?” 

Every year from June to late August ten members of the Arsanaliev family, along with countless other semi-nomadic Kyrgyz families, take their goat and sheep herds up to the nutrient rich high-alpine pastures for 3 months of grazing. The work is physically demanding and starts at sunrise and ends at last light. In the high reaches of the alpine lake, Song Kol (over 9,000 feet above sea level), the weather is unpredictable and clear skies often suddenly give way to hail and thunder storms. This traditional nomadic lifestyle has been practiced by the Kyrgyz for well over a thousand years; and even though many younger Kyrgyz now seek employment in urban centers, the semi-nomadic tradition still thrives. 

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