I’ve been watching a rerun of a travel program on the Halogen TV. The program is titled “Long Way Round” and is a documentary about fellow actor/adventurers Ewan McGregor (Star Wars) and Charley Boorman. They are on a motorcycle trip that will take them west from London, England to New York City USA. I’ve been quite fascinated by their adventure and greatly enjoy their interactions with the great diversity of culture, terrain, religion, and language they come across.
The episode I just finished watching had them traversing the great Mongolian wilderness. As things are wont to happen, a thought jumped into my mind. I began to wonder what ever happened with the plan for a trade and cultural connection between the USA and Mongolia with Niagara Falls as its hub. It was a minimally reported news story about 6 years ago.
So I went immediately started searching the web. I found nothing on the Buffalo News, Niagara Gazette, or the local television stations. I was starting to wonder if I was hallucinating when I found an article written by Mike Hudson of the Niagara Falls Reporter. He reported:
A delegation headed by one of the most powerful men in the government of Mongolia spent much of last week in Niagara Falls, seeing the sights and exploring the possibility that the strategically located Central Asian nation might parlay the city’s reputation as a prime tourism destination and the presence of Niagara Falls International Airport into investment opportunities both cultural and commercial.
Governor-Mayor Tsogt Batbayar, the third-ranking member of the Mongolian government, serves both as mayor of the country’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar, and governor of the surrounding province. Nearly one-third of Mongolia’s three million citizens live there.
Batbayar traveled to the Falls from New York City, where he’d been involved in a series of discussions at the United Nations. Accompanying him were Dr. Bira Pagva, an adviser to the country’s parliament, and Carmen Cabell, an American who heads up Mongolia’s consulate in Washington, D.C.
The mission to Niagara Falls grew out of an interest on the part of the Mongolian government in finding a North American home base for a major museum exhibition, “The Legacy of Genghis Khan,” that has been touring Asia and Europe to sold-out crowds for the past two years.
Like the fabulous King Tut exhibit, which first reached American shores in 1980 and continues to tour, the Genghis Khan exhibition contains thousands of spectacular artifacts, including finely wrought pieces of gold and precious stone, lavishly illuminated manuscripts and silks, alongside the more prosaic objects such as the short swords and bows used by the emperor’s mounted archers to conquer much of the known world, from the Pacific Ocean to the Adriatic Sea, during the 12th and 13th centuries.
A home base on the Niagara Frontier would put the priceless collection within easy traveling distance of museums in Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New York City and the east coast, allowing millions of North Americans to experience the often-forgotten contributions of the Mongol Empire to the modern world.
To that end, Batbayar engaged in extensive talks with Seymour Knox, head of the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo. Plans to arrange a similar meeting with officials from the Castellani Museum fell through due to the mission’s time constraints. Ultimately, Batbayar said through an interpreter, the Mongols would like erect a permanent North American cultural and trade center. Click to read the rest.
It then brought to mind reports that Mongolia was looking for new neighbors (friends). It is an obviously isolated nation in the middle of the Asian continent bordering Russia on the north and China on the south. Having only 3 million residents it really is a small fish in a fantastically sized population sea of over 1.3 billion Russians and Chinese. The British Broadcasting Corporation even did a news report on this policy stating:
China is Mongolia’s largest trading partner, followed by Russia. Russia supplies almost all of Mongolia’s oil, China controls its access to ports. Both are major investors and both have their eyes firmly fixed on Mongolia’s mineral wealth.
But the young democracy – mindful of past subordination to Moscow and China’s voracious appetite for natural resources – also sees diversifying its international ties as the best guarantee of its political and economic independence.
So it has been seeking to build new relationships, both with the West and with other Asian nations, in a variety of different arenas. Mongolia calls it a “third neighbour” policy. Click to read the rest.
So I’m thinking, why not take a look at this. What would it take for local elected officials and business groups? A phone call to the Mongolian Embassy would be the easiest. And what could happen. The Mongols say thanks but no thanks. It won’t work. We were serious to begin with. etc. But you know know. Western New York State was one the Western Door to the great Haudenosaunee or the “People of the Longhouse” nation. The French called them the Iroquois and the name stuck. This was part of the territory of the Seneca Nation of the Iroquois.
Anthropologists and Archeologists will tell you that some 10,000 years ago a group of northwestern Asians migrated across the Bering Sea during a break in the last ice age to make their homes in North and South America. These Haudenosaunee were their descendants. I see an interesting connection between the Seneca Nation and the Mongols. The Seneca are divided into 9 clan groups. One of which is the Turtle. They even attempted to operate a cultural facility based in a building known as “The Turtle.”
The Mongols have a connection to “The Turtle.” There is a natural feature found in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park which looks remarkably like a Turtle. There is a wonderful carved stone turtle located at the remains of their old imperial capital Karakorum. For the culture of ancient Mongolia, the turtle/tortoise was a sacred creature and symbol of eternity.
So, to me it looks like the small population region of Niagara and the small population region of Mongolia have some type of connection. Mongolia can be a gateway to Russia and China for business, travel, and trade just as the Niagara can be a gateway for Mongolia to Canada and the United States.
If anyone is interested, Ulanbaatar’s then governor-mayor Tsogt Batbayar is still around. He is currently a member of the Mongolian Great Khural (Parliament) and can be found on Facebook.
Mongolia’s capital is about 6,150 miles north of Niagara Falls – just about directly over the North Pole.