Traditional Indigenous architectural design emerges from values held by the people, the purpose of the building, the way people move within it, the materials available locally, and aesthetic sense. Traditional architectural forms also encompass strategies ideal for environmental adaptation, including earth-sheltered building, double-insulated walls, and the use of quickly renewable resources.
Buildings are also infused with the spirit of the place, the intent and prayers of the builders, and are understood to be a living entity by many. This includes meaning and pattern encoded into the shapes used, the directional placement of the building, colors represented, and the very materials used in the construction process.
Sustainable Nations integrates traditional design principles and materials with contemporary resources and techniques to produce homes and buildings that represent a community’s values, and foster a sense of connection, emotional health, and cultural identity.
By re-integrating cultural meaning and environmentally responsive and regenerative design into our homes and communities, we are placing ourselves again in right relationship to our communities, cultures, and landscape. Living in homes constructed in this way is a continuous reminder to us and our future generations of the living relationship we keep with our communities and land as native peoples to this Earth.
The source of life and a sacred element, it is vital to respect and preserve, and maintain the purity of our water. We design systems that mirror the Earth’s systems for maintaining the purity of water, and support the natural cycles.
Indigenous lands hold some of the highest renewable energy potentials on Turtle Island, yet we also pay the highest rates for electrical services and have the most un-electrified households. We support the production of tribally owned renewable energy for the sustainability of our Nations. Sustainable Nations considers renewable energy to be energy obtained in a manner that is not destructive to the ecology and social fabric of the community. This means that we promote energy systems that include solar electric, solar thermal, wind, and microhydroelectricity that are installed in appropriate locations, at appropriate scales. A large solar farm that would impact a sacred site, or a wind farm that is located in a migratory bird flight path are not healthy energy installations.
Renewable energy power systems can be used to support individual homes or buildings, small communities, or the entire Nation, and can be connected to existing power grids or can be independent systems.
Regenerative community planning provides for the economic, social, cultural, and ecological needs of your community or nation while regenerating the Earth’s ability to create life, and not sacrificing her integrity for future generations. It is a visionary process requiring a high level of community direction.
Typically, a regenerative community plan includes the following considerations:
- Design based on the relationships and responsibilities of people, homeland, and all
- Promotes walking, bicycling and public transit as primary modes of transportation where possible, through use of walkways, bikeways, and the existence of convenient public transit.
- Protects historic, cultural, agricultural and/or forested lands
- Ensures the protection of sacred sites, environmentally sensitive areas and ecological systems
- Encourages a sense of place through use of natural features, biomimicry in design concept, and open space
- Promotes economic health
- Accomodates anticipated population changes
- Provides housing opportunities for all income levels
- Utilizes green and natural building methods
- Addresses water sources, use, and treatment.
- Is reinforced by policy development and meaningful implementation.
Land use planning in support of Indigenous nation-building can include:
- Regenerative forestry, grazing, hunting, and agriculture
- Infrastructure for communities, including transportation, housing, water sources and filtration, and industry
- Support for aesthetic, cultural and spiritual needs
- Support for the ecological diversity and integrity of the land, maintaining the health of the ecosystem and it’s ability to respond to change.
Reinforcement of the Nations’ sovereign status, land and water rights, and/or rights reserved through treaty.
Restoration and Healing of Land
Due to the historical targeting of Indigenous lands by extractive and waste industries, many of our communities have toxic sites, superfund sites, brownfields, and contaminated water supplies. The companies, industries, and governments responsible for the contamination should take full economic responsibility for the cleanup of these sites. In the meantime, Indigenous landscape restoration, bioremediation, and mycoremediation offer a strategy to work with our Mother the Earth to clean and decontaminate the soils and water. Bioremediation is the cultivation of plants, bacteria, and a rich soil environment to allow the plants and bacteria to digest and degrade toxic compounds. Mycoremediation works with fungi to do the same. Brownfields and other contaminated sites may also be used for other purposes, such as a site to place renewable energy facilities, or other industrial uses.
The restoration of Indigenous landscapes, including the restoration of the people to their place of caring for and harvesting from the land, can heal our communities.
Traditional Sustainable Food Systems
Reconnecting our peoples and Nations to the sources of our food, growing our own healthy food, and supporting the revival of traditional food sources is a powerful way to strengthen our communities and spirits, returning people to their homelands. We are inspired by the work and effort occurring throughout Indigenous communities to revitalize our food systems and grow our food sovereignty!