Open Area: Bedouin Weavers of the Negev Desert
by, Seattle WA US

Perhaps no native peoples in the developed world are more discriminated against than Bedouin Israelis, the indigenous tribal peoples of the Middle East. Lack of protection from rocket attack, severe discrimination and denial of historic land rights are the norm for the Bedouin citizens of Israel.

The plight of the Bedouins became worse during the Gaza Israeli war. Unlike their Jewish neighbors the Bedouins do not have air raid warnings or shelters. As a result several Bedouins were wounded, including children, and two died as a result of rocket attacks. Not a party to the conflicts of the region the Bedouins are most affected by them.

We started filming this story in April 2014 at the Bedouin women’s Lakiya Weaving Center in the Negev Desert of Southern Israel. Our four-minute story of the weaving center touches on the political situation. In our new short film to be completed in April 2015, we are directly exploring it.

Open Area: Ancient Lands of the Bedouins in Israel

We follow Khadra Alsanah, a charismatic founder of the Weaving Center, Hanan Alsanah and Heidi Paredes as they travel to Washington, DC. Their growing frustration with lack of protection from rocket attack brought them to Washington where they brought the situation to the attention of the US Government, NGOs and the American public. It is rare in Bedouin society for women to be activists, but through their ground-breaking work at the Weaving Center, these extraordinary women have become effective voices for the Bedouin Community.

Every year, the recently enlarged special police unit assigned to the Bedouins in the Negev destroys as many as 1000 Bedouin homes. One village, Al-Araqib, dating to the late 1800s, has been destroyed by the police and rebuilt by the residents more than 75 times in the last five years. For the younger children born there, having their village periodically destroyed by the government is all they have ever known.

Our new film will show the impact these women made in Washington DC and will feature footage shot last November in Israel and Palestine. It will encompass the Bedouin art and artistic programs, but will put a sharper focus on the unequal treatment of the Bedouins and their struggle to maintain their homes, culture and artistic traditions.

Uelen, Chukota

You can Donate to the Uelen Printshop Fund (Donate button above). Or you may purchase Posters, Greeting Cards and limited edition Prints from the historic 2004 Uelen Printmaking workshop in our Gallery.

Video production donated by Sly Crow Productions. © 2004 - 2013 by Native Arts Fan Club and on behalf of the artists of the Uelen Carving Workshop.

Uelen Ivory Carving Workshop

We’re saddened by Valery Nypevgi’s untimely passing on Saturday April 5, 2014 of an apparent heart attack while traveling by snowmobile from his hometown of Neshkan, to Uelen, Chukotka. His remains were returned to Neshkan for burial. Valery was a great artist and leader for the Uelen Ivory Carving Workshop. He is survived by his daughter and son. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.

Valery Nikolaevich Nypevgi was born in 1955 in Neshkan, Chukotka the Chukchi son of carver Nikolay Nypevgi. Valery was raised in both the reindeer herding and marine mammal hunting traditions and studied with noted carver, Ivan Seigutegin. Valery worked in the Neshkan branch of the Uelen Workshop from 1981 until 1987, when he became Chairman of the Uelen Workshop. He was a tireless promoter of Uelen’s artwork, traveling extensively in Russia to a variety of Art and Craft shows, such as Ladia every year. His works can be found in private collections, the Cerny Inuit Collection in Bern, Switzerland and the Museum of the Uelen Bone Carving Workshop.

Valery played a key role in preserving and celebrating Uelen traditions during the dissolution of the Soviet system in the 1990s.  He did everything he could to keep the carving shop in operation even when other traditional industries collapsed and Uelen was almost completely disconnected from the rest of Russia. Valery was also instrumental in keeping carving cultural exchanges between Chukotka and Alaska carvers going.

From Commenting on the children who come to the workshop, Valery once said  – "I often look at the kids who are coming here. They are not yet burdened by traditional art and don’t learn to engrave, they just follow their perception. They look at carving or engraving and interpret it in their own way. The results are naive and yet sometimes very interesting indeed. They paint, carve, and sculpt a great deal.”