Black Elk speaks of the “square boxes” his people were forced into, and Winona LaDuke of the “boxes of mints” on Native lands. As long as the government was deciding what tribal buildings should look like, Native custom and culture were bound to be boxed in—or boxed out. But in the post-1996 era of more flexible housing policies, Native peoples have assumed a
key role in the design of buildings on tribal lands. The result is an architecture that finally accords with the traditions and ideas of the people who inhabit it.
A virtual tour of recent Native building projects in Canada and the western and midwestern United States, New Architecture on Indigenous Lands conducts readers through cultural
centers and schools, clinics and housing, and even a sugar camp, all while showing how tribal identity is manifested in various distinctive ways. Focusing on such sites as the Tribal
Council Chambers of the Pojoaque Pueblo; the Zuni Eagle Sanctuary in New Mexico; the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Center in Osoyoos, British Columbia; and the T’lisalagi’law Elementary
School, Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka offer wide-ranging insights into the sensory, symbolic, cultural, and environmental contexts of this new architecture.
With close attention to details of design, questions of tradition, and cultural issues, and through interviews with designers and their Native clients, the authors provide an in-depth
introduction to the new Native architecture in its many guises—and a rare chance to appreciate its aesthetic power.
Joy Monice Malnar, AIA, is associate professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
Frank Vodvarka is professor of fine arts at Loyola University Chicago. They coauthored The Interior Dimension: A Theoretical Approach to Enclosed Space and Sensory Design (Minnesota, 2004).