Using Design to Restore Indigenous Sovereignty

Architecture across reservations reveals and renews present-day colonialism. More than half the structures throughout the Navajo Nation, for instance, are dilapidated or in need of large repairs, while 39% of houses remain overcrowded, according to a report from the Navajo Housing Authority. In working to further tribal sovereignty, Indigenous artists and architects are using design as a vehicle for decolonization. At creative practice Studio:indigenous, founder Chris Cornelius rethinks HUD Houses (aka housing provided by US Department of Housing and Urban Development) by incorporating the needs of Indigenous lifestyles: space for ceremony, a large porch, a view of the sky and a place to build a fire. Others, like Design Build Utah, a graduate program from the University of Utah’s College of Architecture + Planning, focus on building affordable housing for Navajo Nation residents in a way that departs from the white saviorism embedded in the typical structures made on reservations. Learn more about how design is being used to empower Native communities at Architectural Digest.

Image courtesy of Timothy Hursley