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Nina Wegner
Nina is a documentarian, journalist, and co-founder of the Vanishing Cultures Project, a nonprofit organization that uses documentary journalism to empower indigenous communities globally. She is the author of two books, Mustang: Lives and Landscapes of the Lost Tibetan Kingdom, which garnered a foreword from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Mongolia's Nomads: Life on the Steppe. She is currently researching Brazil's Amazonian tribes who will be displaced by the Belo Monte Dam.

Nina received a B.A. in English with an emphasis on folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. After spending four years working as an editor and marketer for California book publishers, she returned to school in 2008 and received an M.A. in magazine, newspaper, and online journalism at Syracuse University. She covered local news in Syracuse and Tampa before moving abroad and becoming a full-time freelance journalist and editor.

Nina is based in New York where she spends half her year; the other half is spent writing and collaborating abroad with Taylor Weidman for the Vanishing Cultures Project.

Entries by Nina Wegner

Our Furniture's Dirty Secret: Illegal Land Grabs and Logging Are Robbing Papua New Guineans

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 1:08 PM

Sad but true: the mahogany desk in your study or the merbau flooring in your living room probably came from illegal timber logged on tropical lands. It's a dirty trade that's been happening for decades, but a new report finds that Papua New Guinea, one of the main...

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As Belo Monte Dam Project Speeds Up, Indigenous Tribe Feels Pain

(1) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 4:36 PM


A Xikrin woman walks back to her village from the Bacaja River. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Weidman and the Vanishing Cultures Project.)

For over 20 years, the indigenous tribes of the Brazilian Amazon have protested the world's third-largest dam, the Belo Monte....

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Indigenous Demand Meeting with Brazilian President Over Dams

(3) Comments | Posted May 28, 2013 | 3:56 PM

Munduruku men walk in the construction site of Belo Monte during their occupation. This quarry supplies rock for the construction of the Belo Monte coffer dam. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Weidman/The Vanishing Cultures Project.)

Armed with bows, arrows, and heavy wooden clubs, roughly...

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Support One of the World's Last Nomadic Cultures

(1) Comments | Posted December 17, 2012 | 7:00 PM


A Mongolian herder leads his horse through an oasis in the Gobi Desert. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Weidman/Vanishing Cultures Project.)

Mongolia is still a land where wind whips through horses' manes as they race across a terrain of rolling green pastures. Herders roam the...

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Photo Essay: Postcards From the Second Most Air Polluted City in the World

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2012 | 2:29 PM

It's coming on winter, and Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, is making its annual transformation into the second most air polluted city in the world. According to a comprehensive study on urban air quality conducted by the World Health Organization, Ulaanbaatar follows closely behind the...

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Ecuadorian Indigenous Elders Make Plea to Developed World on 11th Oil Round

(2) Comments | Posted November 29, 2012 | 1:44 PM

In the southern Amazon basin of Ecuador, the air is filled with the sound of macaws, the distant sound of thunder, and the rustling of creatures in the underbrush. But as soon as next year, the metallic hammering of oil drills may join the chorus. Local indigenous leaders are dead-set...

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Take Action for Indigenous Peoples in the Wake of Columbus Day

(0) Comments | Posted October 10, 2012 | 12:25 PM

As one of the more frequently contested holidays in America, Columbus Day sparked a barrage of commentary and analysis in the media this weekend, including The Huffington Post. While many working folks in America enjoyed a long weekend, bloggers, authors, teachers, and others from across fields and disciplines took a...

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Tradition 'Wrestles' With Modernity at Mongolia's Naadam Festival

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2012 | 3:34 PM

It's a warm July afternoon in Ugtaal County in central Mongolia, and a crowd gathers on the open steppe under a rickety bandstand. I'm here with the Vanishing Cultures Project and videographer Lauren Knapp to document the traditions of Mongolian nomadic herders. In our efforts to...

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Buddhist Lama Works to Preserve Vanishing Culture

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2012 | 6:23 PM

Kagbeni, a medieval fortress town in the Himalayas, struggles to balance modernity with traditional culture. (Taylor Weidman/Vanishing Cultures Project)

Khenpo Tenzin Sangpo is worried about the future of his community. He is the abbot of Kag Chode Thupten Samphel Ling Monastery, a...

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Last of the Nomads: How Mongolian Culture May Change Drastically Within a Generation

(12) Comments | Posted April 5, 2012 | 9:58 AM

"I'm going to be the last herder of my family," said Erdenemunkh, a nomad living in Central Mongolia. We were sitting in his cozy ger -- or Mongolian yurt -- drinking salty milk tea, a staple of the Mongolian herding diet.

"I'm going to do everything to send my...

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Kony 2012 Campaign

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2012 | 9:34 AM

This week, the international community witnessed what the Wall Street Journal has dubbed the fastest-growing viral video in the history of the Internet. Invisible Children, a nonprofit dedicated to arresting the international war criminal, Joseph Kony, aired a 30-minute video about Kony's atrocities in Uganda that...

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How Unwelcome Development in Peru Caused the Death of One Man

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2012 | 10:24 AM

A recent image of the Mashco Piro in Peru. (© D.Cortijo/

When development encroaches onto native lands where it is not welcome, indigenous people are not the only ones who are affected. A tragic story unfolding in the Peruvian Amazon is currently shedding...

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How Indigenous Cultures Can Save the Modern World

(17) Comments | Posted February 6, 2012 | 7:49 AM

Think about this: Anthropologists and linguists say that every two weeks a unique language disappears with its last surviving speaker. As we celebrated our entrance into the 21st century, about half of the world's 7,000 human languages were not being spoken or taught to younger generations.

Can you imagine this...

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