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In the Shadow of Shamans: Reindeer Herders of Mongolia - 2012

Region: Central Asia, Mongolia
Author: Sas Carey, NOMADICARE
Consortium Member: Virtual Foundation Director (ECOLOGIA)
Status: Needs Funding Budget: $39585 Collected: $5000 Needs: $34585
Goal: An educational film about Dukha Reindeer Herders' struggle to maintain their spirituality and way of life; these are now being changed by the forces of global warming. To continue traveling with and filming the Dukhas, because indigenous people take time to share their stories.
Comment: In summer 2007 and 2008, extensive footage was filmed, including five shaman ceremonies, and interviews. The goal for 2010-2011 is to transcribe the conversations, log the footage and prepare the rough edit.

This film will be made available to Mongolians, to colleges and universities and to others who need to know about the sustainable life of one of the earth’s most remarkable people. (Note: this budget reflects only what is needed to complete this multi-year project. More than $70,000 has already been invested.)

Donors: Anonymous; Jouni Koljonen, Finland (June 2008); Anonymous, Vermont (January 2009)

This educational film will explore the connection between the earth’s changing temperatures and the decrease in food available and thus, health. This film will be made available to Mongolians and to others who need to know about the sustainable life of one of the earth’s most remarkable people.


Since 2001, Sas Carey has traveled in Mongolia to shoot documentary film footage of health, spirit and life, especially of women in two different regions. Her first film, "Gobi Women’s Song", was completed in 2006, and is currently being screened by appointment, throughout the United States and Mongolia. In 2003 and 2004, she traveled to Huvsgul to film Reindeer Herders and shamans. Now she is ready to complete the production (filming) stage and begin work on the post production (editing) stage. As with Gobi Women's Song, unique, original still and motion film footage, and audio recordings, which she will use to create a film for widespread distribution, in English and in Mongolian.

Questions from the Virtual Foundation Proposal Review Committee, and answers from the project organizer, Sas Carey (2004):

Question: How accessible will a video be to the populations you will be filming? Will the film then be used as a fundraiser? What audience will be targeted? What are the people being filmed being told about follow-up?
Answer: "I showed the Reindeer Herders footage I took in 2003. They know about my use of the film. I will use the film to raise funds for further work in Mongolia. Audience is people interested in sustainable living, other cultures and spirituality. When it is finished, Mongol TV will show the film and it will be available for Mongolian schools, libraries and agencies working in Mongolia."

Question: What are the people being filmed being told about follow-up?
Answer: "I have shown some of the footage from 2003 to Dukhas and they said I should shoot more and interview the rest of their shamans. In 2004 I took a year’s supply of vitamins to children and adults in response to interviews in 2003. They trust me to honor them with the film, and know it will be used in ways to help them and other Mongolians."

Background on Sas Carey and the Mongolian Medicine Project

The goal of the Mongolian Medicine Project is to bring health options across borders and cultural lines and to educate the different peoples about each other in a deeply honest way. Its founder, Sas Carey of Vermont, began strengthening her work as a nurse and spiritual healer to learn concepts of balance for Western health care. Since her first trip to Mongolia in 1994, she has been fascinated with its people and culture, and has developed and implemented projects in her field of expertise. All Mongolian Medicine Projects come from roots in meditation and deep listening to Mongolians.

While in Mongolia to learn about energy and balance and their application to healing in traditional medicine, Sas Carey discovered that hospitals there need what the West has —not million dollar machines, but basic laboratories. She developed a project, which has already provided laboratories, supplies and training to five hospitals in rural areas. While visiting rural areas in Mongolia, she discovered that Mongolian Medicine had practically disappeared. This culturally appropriate, and sustainable method can be used effectively, so she is promoting scholarships for rural doctors, to enable them to combine traditional and western methods in their public health practice. Most recently, while assessing the health of Reindeer Herders (Tsaatan or Dukha people) in northern Mongolia, she understood their need for vitamins to prevent scurvy and blindness. Finally, she has been filming her experiences for 12 years, to share with Mongolians so they will not forget the disappearing nomad life, and for the rest of us who need to know about the sustainable life of some of Earth’s most remarkable people.

In the Shadow of Shamans Budget Summary for 2007

Production—Filming in Mongolia
Camera, batteries, solar charger, tapes $4000
Cameraman $1000
US Post-Production
Transcribe translations (40 hours of tapes) $2500
Story consultant (2 days @ $600) $1200
Log and rough edit(1000 hours @ $25) $25000
Subtitles and fine translation (200 hours @ $20) $4000
Subtotal $37,700
VF Administrative fee $1885
Total Requested $39585