Model: Dani Evans, Producer: Green Jar, Co-Producer: Dani Evans, Creative Director: Jamie Baratta, Photographer: Itaysha Jordan, Stylist: Samantha Jo Alonso , Makeup: Merrell Hollis & Hair: Dante Blandshaw
Highly Endangered: The Maasai is a viral campaign that seeks to advocate awareness about the effects of environmental degradation on the Maasai culture through the mediums of fashion, photography, & design.
The term Highly Endangered is often used to describe a population at risk of becoming extinct either because it is few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. But what about a culture at risk? This is where the Maasai tribe finds itself today. The Maasai, a Nilotic ethnic group of semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania, identify themselves as those who uphold the culture of pastoralism. Pastoralism, the socio-economic lifestyle of the Maasai, promotes an integrated natural resource protection strategy, peacefully co-existing with the rich east African wild flora and fauna, thanks to the traditional, nature-friendly Maasai cultural practices. However, maintaining a traditional pastoral lifestyle has become increasingly difficult due to outside influences of the modern world and environmental degradation that has resulted from drought.
Consequently the Maasai have been forced to develop new ways of sustaining themselves. Selling tribal embellishments is a strong example of the way the Maasai have taken initiative in order to raise money and awareness to combat some of the effects of environmental degradation.
The Highly Endangered: The Maasai campaign, features exquisite jewelry made by the Maasai women. Each beaded piece was purchased from Maasai Association. For centuries, the Maasai women have crafted handmade, glass-beaded jewelry as a means of connecting people and expressing their heritage and way of life. Today, this group of women is doing more than just continuing the tradition. This traditional art form is now at the heart of an initiative to enhance earnings. Here, fashion, environmental degradation, and women’s rights come together.
By visiting Maasai Association’s website you can learn more about the Maasai, celebrate their culture, and help raise their standard of living by donating to a number of their initiatives and by purchasing these beautiful beads.
Image credit Courtesy of Itaysha Jordan