Tribal experts meet at Construction in Indian Country Conference, Urban Giff honored
November 16, 2018
Gila River Indian News
Arizona State University hosted the 15th Annual Construction in Indian Country Conference to discuss how best practices in building techniques and business models can be implemented within Native communities.
This year, the conference brought together tribal housing experts from across the state of Arizona and neighboring states on Nov. 7-9 at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, welcomed the conference attendees, saying, “We are proud of the relationship we’ve had with the Construction in Indian Country conference, which has grown into a premier showcase for construction and sustainability, because we are building a brighter future for our community members,” said Lewis.
He said a combination of bright minds and supportive tribal leaders allows initiatives and tribally owned businesses to thrive. “We are stepping into new chapters for the Community, we are building a state of the art school on the west side of our community in Gila Crossing,” he said.
“What makes [this] undertaking so unique is that we are doing a lease buy-back approach, where we are negotiating a commercial lease with the Bureau of Indian Education,” said Lewis.
He said the new school will incorporate areas to teach subjects around culture and science, technology, engineering, mathematics and agriculture and architecture (STEAM) to the students at the school.
He said the Community will be building another school in District 1 Uhs Kehk, Blackwater, adding that there are other examples of progress in construction in the Community, like the Hau’pal Health Center that will serve the surrounding Native American population and Community members.
On building for the future, Lewis said the Community has a great partnership with ASU on a sustainable housing initiative, that he said is about bringing back the traditional architecture in a very modern sense, with the incorporation of “green” technology.
“Part of that initiative is re-educating our people and getting them excited about introducing a design that is part of our traditional historic building, because the people don’t want to lose [those] ties to our past,” said Lewis.
A night of honors
On Nov. 8, the CIIC hosted an inaugural banquet at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino theater, recognizing three organizations and one individual for their contributions to construction in Indian Country.
In the Lasting Impact Award category, Community member Urban Giff was the recipient of the inaugural award.
“I’m speechless to the point that I want to recognize all of you, that have been there with me for me and taking things that we need to do for the benefit of others,” said Giff, “It’s a special blessing that I have enjoyed because of you and those that have been there time and again to organize the CIIC, I owe you the gratitude that I feel very much in my heart.”
He said he owes the award to those involved in the tireless work of providing opportunities to Native students, who will contribute to initiatives within the construction world, while benefiting their tribal communities.
Giff was presented with an eagle feather by Vice President for CIIC Jeff Begay in appreciation of his work with veterans and construction initiatives within Indian Country.
Revisiting the sustainable housing project
On Nov. 9, a presentation was provided by ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the School of Construction professor, Wanda Dalla Costa, ASU Architecture student Selina Martinez (Yaqui), Sky Dawn Reed, Community member and ASU graduate, and Tamara Trahant, a student at ASU.
The presentation was about the sustainable housing initiative project, providing an update of where the project is at in regards to home designs, based on Community members feedback.
In the presentation, three points of discussion were covered on timeline of activities, cost & constructibility, and jobs & training. Various aspects of the project included terms like place keeping, which is the process of keeping the local community in mind regarding input and direction while the project is on-going.
Other subjects talked about the use of materials that are sourced from the location, where the Indigenous people live, that includes its members as part of the manufacturing process. This led into the idea of a circular economy, where the local population is part of the building process, that could lead to opportunities into specialized fields and careers, while promoting tribal sovereignty.
Outstanding Community Enrichment Award: Wa-Di Housing, Santo Domingo Pueblo
Outstanding Design & Planning Award:
Cedar Hills, Pueblo of Acoma
Outstanding Construction Award:
Cloud Song Center, Scottsdale Community College