Respecting the land that we design our built world upon is architects stand by, but those with indigenous heritage have a stronger history behind those beliefs. November is a time of reflection and gratitude, so this month is dedicated to Indigenous architects whose designs inspire us all.
November is celebrated as Native American Heritage Month. Honoring the original people who first set foot to North America. This month we celebrate the rich culture and tradition Native Americans have contributed to our history. Although the identity of the Native American population had been nearly eradicated, it is important to educate ourselves about the contributions of Native Americans architects.
Tammy Eagle Bull
As the first Native American woman in the U.S. to be a licensed architect, Tammy represents hundreds of aspiring architects who do not shy from allowing their identity to shine in a male-dominant industry. She is the President and founder of Encompass Architects where she focuses on designs that “positively enhance Native American communities.” Eagle Bull designed the K-8 Porcupine Day School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the first LEED Silver school in South Dakota.
Wanda Dalla Costa
Another trailblazer in architecture, Wanda was the first indigenous woman to become an architect in Canada. She is part of the Saddle Lake First Nation, a group of Indigenous Canadians who were classified as distinct from the Intuit and Métis. She dedicates her career in community-driven designs that highlights Indigenous methodologies and vernaculars. She is currently teaching at Arizona State University where she engages the local tribal community through her program, Indigenous Design Collaborative.
Recently earning the 2021 Women in Architecture Design Leadership award, Tamarah Begay is a successful Navajo architect based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With over 13 years of experience, she exemplifies excellence in her commitment to Native Americans in architecture. She is the founder of Indigenous Design Studio + Architecture (IDS+A), a firm with the goal “to provide sustainable and innovative designs for communities throughout the U.S. with an emphasis on working with Native American tribes.”
A renowned architect based in Ottawa, Ontario, Cardinal offers a unique architectural perspective that earned him the Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. His Indigenous heritage heavily influence his designs with an acute sensibility to nature, organic materials and shapes, spirituality, and human’s relationship to the environment. His most notable projects include the National Museum of American Indian and Canada Museum of History. “Without any preconceptions, I evolve a design from inside out, open to all possibilities.”
Canadian architect, Alfred Waugh, known for establish his own award winning architectural firm, Formline Architecture. He is one of the few architects recognized by the First Nations. Formline Architecture focuses on custom culturally sensitive projects. His most recent work comes from the University of Toronto, Scarborough’s Indigenous House with LGA Architectural Partners.
Sam Olbekson brings a unique perspective as the Principal of Native American Design at Cuningham Group. As a member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe and had grown up in Native American communities, he is qualified to offer his knowledge on social and environmental issues within tribal communities. Olbekson is the founder of the Full Circle Indigenous Plan. “A research-based planning and visioning design firm serving tribal communities, economic development agencies and gaming facilities throughout Indian County.” One of his most notable work features the Wakan Tipi Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.