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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 14, 2002 - Issue 76


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TC High Students Focus on Rez Housing Needs

by Suetopka Thayer - TC District Media Team Navajo/Hopi Observer
The hogan that the TC High students are buildingUnder the watchful guidance of their teachers, Tuba City High Voc-Ed students are beginning to understand on a really personal level what it means to give back to their reservation communities.

As Hopis and Navajos living side by side on neighboring reservation lands, these students are also learning how to work and build homes for their elderly.

Just like in the real world where partnering and team building are essential for successful business practices, TC High students are learning marketable contracting skills through the Hogan-ICE Project. This includes complex concepts such as land use planning, traditional and cultural considerations when building an environmentally sensitive home and restrictions when dealing with one’s own tribal bureaucracy in obtaining funding and building permits for construction.

The hogan that the TC High students are building is located in South Tuba and is a pilot project born from a multi-agency effort.

TC High School along with Tuba City Chapter officials Frank Bilagody and Leo Begay, U.S. Forest Service rep Mae Franklin, Navajo Housing Authority rep Edison Dale, Coconino County Supervisor Louise Yellowman and Indigenous Community Enterprise (ICE) are the partners in this new venture. Their joint effort addresses housing needs for native elderly and features culturally sensitive building concepts with energy efficient features. Representing ICE on the project are Tony Robbins, board chairman; Luke Ray, construction superintendent; Brent KenCairn, interim director; and Hazel James, community outreach director.

The Forest Service provides building materials for the project. Both the deterioration of forest and communities on native reservations in Arizona has been well documented with wildfires, insects and droughts destroying much of the remaining old growth.

This seven-agency project has several benefits. It allows the restoration of forest and traditional use lands while keeping in mind the need for safe and traditionally sensitive homes. It creates jobs for native members and instills discipline and a genuine team concept of working.
TC High Students have learned that this type of home building project will allow for personal financial benefit but, more importantly, provides a real solution to their reservation community housing needs.

The students hope to finish the new hogan by the end of January so that a formal open house can be held for its new resident, Rena George, Tuba City native and Navajo elder.

The Tuba City community is able to watch these students work toward a very real and practical solution that, at the same time, fosters a better, more sensitive answer to housing.

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