From the Tribal Front: we present the work and values of the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative in this inaugural newsletter!
SANTA FE, New Mexico | Greetings from the awe-inspiring landscapes of New Mexico! The spring weather is finally here, and we at the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative are excited to share our inaugural newsletter! You’re receiving this quarterly message because you have connected with us, or one of our team members, in some capacity over the years. We’re excited to share the stories of our work and expanding initiatives in Indian Country.
The Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (SNCC) is a native-led organization focusing on culturally and environmentally sustainable development with American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous communities worldwide. Through planning, architectural design, technical assistance and research, our services help tribal communities gain self-sufficiency, improve their impacts on the natural world, and develop economically sustainable, healthy, green, and culturally-appropriate communities.
The SNCC leadership has evolved in recent months. Our founding director, Jamie Blosser recently began a new role as Executive Director at the Santa Fe Art Institute. Joseph Kunkel, a founding member of the SNCC, became Executive Director in January, bringing valuable design thinking and development background to the organization. As an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow, Joseph worked directly with both SNCC and the Santo Domingo Tribal Housing Authority (SDTHA) from 2013 through 2015. His recent work includes the design and development of 41 units of affordable housing for the SDTHA, researching and sharing exemplary Native American residential architecture through the SNCC Case Studies, and creating the Healthy Native Homes Roadmap an online tool for affordable housing development in Indian Country funded by HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research. Architect Nathaniel Corum, another founding member of the SNCC team, brings humanitarian, deep green architectural experience to his new role as Design Director. Nathaniel and Joseph are currently facilitating planning and design processes with several tribal communities in the Southwest and the Northern Plains. Specifically, and central to this quarterly, SNCC has exciting new design collaborations developing with two Sioux Tribes in South Dakota.
CROW CREEK RESERVATION, South Dakota | We’re working on culturally responsive home designs integrated with the phased master planning of an anticipated 50-60 houses, related business incubator facilities, and recreational and ecological features for a promising center-of-town site on Tribal lands. Together with Sioux tribal members, the Housing Authority, Dacotah Tipis, the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, and local stakeholders we’re refining Crow Creek prototype home designs, live/work building plans, and site use strategies. Much of this work has been made possible through the generous philanthropic of one family. SNCC will be back at Crow Creek in May 2016 to present community-informed designs at the next public meetings.
PINE RIDGE, South Dakota | In March, thanks to support from the American Red Cross, Joseph and Nathaniel presented processes, projects, and potential approaches for culturally responsive green development at the initial Pine Ridge Partnership Summit. Convened by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the Summit brought together representatives from over 30 organizations – including local and tribal groups, The White House, FEMA, HUD, and the USDA. We discussed how to work together to bring hope and healing to those impacted by the recent disasters and how to prepare for future challenges.
The Summit was a concerted response to the severe storms and flooding that racked the Pine Ridge Reservation last year. An already chronic housing shortfall in one of the poorest US counties was instantly compounded as wind and water damaged homes across the reservation. In 2015 The White House named Pine Ridge a ‘Promise Zone,’ to ‘create opportunity, engage stakeholders on issues and solutions, and promote and coordinate private sector partnerships.’ As a Promise Zone, the Oglala Sioux Tribe will receive preference for certain competitive Federal programs in addition to technical assistance, and help navigating related Federal programs. In August of 2015, FEMA issued a landmark Major Disaster Declaration for affected members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe: the first case of direct tribal assistance following a recent Federal legal shift. The need now is for local groups and allied organizations to collaborate towards resilient development outcomes.
SNCC looks forward to a second Pine Ridge Partnership Summit in May to find solutions for the 1,900 households that are currently registered for disaster assistance. We anticipate continuing collaboration with representatives from the Oglala Sioux (Lakota) Housing Authority, the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. The SNCC looks forward to collaborating within this consortium to implement regenerative planning strategies and architecture in alignment with the cultural values of the Lakota people. There is much work to do!
PBS Broadcast Premiere of Native American Green: New Directions in Tribal Housing
Our PBS Natural Heroes TV episode Native American Green is now airing on stations across the country. You can tune in locally or stream the program on our website. Produced by Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative with Adventure Pictures, the show tells the story of a remarkable transformation in green architecture on Native American lands. A new generation of tribal leaders, architects and planners is creating sustainable buildings that restore traditions, and revitalize native communities. Native American Green features five of these innovative projects:
PENOBSCOT LEED HOMES, Penobscot Indian Nation, Indian Island, Maine – The Penobscot Indian Nation Housing Authority, working with WBRC Architects and tribal community members built 12 LEED Gold single-family homes and helped bring young families back to Indian Island, reuniting them with a strong cultural and traditional heritage.
OWE’NEHBUPINGEH REHABILITATION PROJECT, Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico – Owe’neh Bupingeh, the traditional name for the Ohkay Owingeh village center, has been occupied for at least 700 years. Sixty of the homes remain and are being restored with tribal members, earthen building constructors and the team at Atkin Olshin Schade Architects.
TEEKALET VILLAGE, Port Gamble S’Kallalem Nation, Port Gamble Bay, Washington – The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal (PGST) Housing Authority worked with Tormod Hellwig Architects and tribal member builder J.M. Grinnell to design and build Teekalet Village comprising houses, a community center, and walking trails adjacent to tribal salmon fishing grounds on the Puget Sound.
GOOD EARTH LODGES, Apsaalooke (Crow) Tribe, Crow Indian Reservation, Montana – The Crow Tribe partnered with UC Boulder and Pyatt Studio Architecture to design and build prototype compressed earth block homes. The project asked: if raw materials could be sourced on tribal land, if the blocks could withstand the local climate, and if a tribal workforce could build the homes.
PLACE OF HIDDEN WATERS, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Tacoma, Washington – The Place of Hidden Waters was designed by SNCC Senior Design Associate Daniel Glenn of 7 Directions Architects and features two ‘longhouse’ residential clusters, a community building, and the restoration of a wildlife corridor. This culturally and environmentally responsive design was awarded the 2012 LEED for Homes Project of the Year.
Thank you for reading our inaugural newsletter and for your interest in SNCC and culturally and environmentally responsive design!