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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Electronic Information and Publications Office > Publications > Meet the Ambassador

John O'Keefe, Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan



Ambassador John O'Keefe and Ms. Keneshkan Ismanova, Director of the Cholpon-Ata Museum
Ambassador O'Keefe and Ms. Keneshkan Ismanova, Director of the Cholpon-Ata Museum discuss issues of cultural preservation and cultural tourism. In the background are ancient petroglyphs.  (Photo courtesy of Nurilya Barakanova, Cultural Assistant at Embassy Bishkek.)

Photo Background: Scattered over slopes to the north of Cholpon-Ata is an extraordinary collection of ancient rock carvings. Thought to have been created by Sak and Usun Scythians between 500 BC and 100AD, these petroglyphs predate the arrival of Kyrgyz people to Issyk-Kul. Images depicting hunting scenes, ibex, sungods, wolves, horses and snow leopards have been painstakingly chipped out of the sun-scorched red and black rocks. Sadly, some have been erased or defaced by less-than-respectful 20th century visitors, but the overall effect remains impressive. The best time to visit is just before sunset when the mountains above and lake below are at their most beautiful.

Ambassador O'Keefe I would like to share with you a version of the Kyrgyz creation myth told to me by Kathleen Kuehnast, an anthropologist who has spent much time in the Kyrgyz Republic.

It is said that many, many years ago God came to the people of this earth and gave each group their special land. All the land had been distributed when the Kyrgyz came forward and asked for their share. God explained to the Kyrgyz that there was simply no more land left and he did not know what to do. He went away for a while to think about the dilemma. When God returned, he told the Kyrgyz that since they were people of the earth and must have their own land that he would just have to give them his own resort. Thus, the Kyrgyz inherited the most beautiful of all Godís land.  

For additional information on Ambassador O'Keefe and the work in Bishkek, visit the embassy's website. For more ambassador profiles, click here.

Visit the State Department's Careers page to find out about Foreign Service and Civil Service careers and about opportunities for students.

July 26, 2002


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