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Khasavyurt Hosts a Month of American Indian Studies
July 27, 2006

Rather than spending the summer month of July relaxing, the Central R. Gamzatov Library in Khasavyurt hosted a summer children’s reading program entitled “An American Indian Village” for approximately 100 school children. Open World alumni initiated the program; alumni also donated books and other materials on the American Indian to the library to provide scholars with additional resources.

Librarians held literary games and quizzes, showed films and documentaries, and arranged for local youth to meet with Open World alumni Arsanali Murtazaliev, Magomedali Magomedaliev and Saida Kasueva to learn about their experiences in the United States and their knowledge about American Indians. Other Open World alumni held individual sessions on specific themes. Dina Gamidova, assistant director of the city's Finance Department, held a class on American Indian folk art, traditional ornaments and beadwork; physician Elmira Abukova showed the children how to apply war paint; and Zakhra Alimkhanova surprised them with some traditional American Indian dishes she learned to make while on her exchange to Colorado.

Open World alumnus Timur Melikov, assistant director of the Spartak Recreation and Entertainment Center, and the program’s organizers built an American Indian tepee in the center of the city. The teepee hosted an exhibition of books and illustrations about the life of American Indians as well as of souvenirs and various arts and crafts made by American children and presented to Dagestan Open World alumni during their exchanges.

The concluding event of the summer reading program was a contest between two young “tribes” that attracted more than a hundred spectators. The teams competed in their knowledge of the history and ethnography of Indian tribes, their ability to “read” nature’s secrets, shoot arrows, recite ancient legends, and chant ritual songs. After the contest its participants buried their “war hatchets” and shared the symbolic “peace pipe.”

The monthlong festival was considered a success. Thanks to the initiative of Open World alumni excited to share their knowledge and experience with their community, youth had the opportunity to learn more about America’s history and culture.