A modern movement in tribal building design

Review of "New Architecture on Indigenous Lands," by Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka

 

New Architecture on Indigenous Lands
Joy Monice Malnar & Frank Vodvarka
272 pages with 20 black-and-white illustrations, 20 black-and-white plates and 155 color plates.
$39.95 softcover, $120 hardcover.
University of Minnesota Press, 2013

The central structure at the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum was designed to evoke elements of a wickiup.
Scott Smith

In 1996, government housing policies on tribal lands became more flexible, inspiring the creation of a new kind of modern architecture. No longer bound by federal rules of housing and design, Native communities were able to complete buildings and spaces that were more reflective of their own cultures. In New Architecture on Indigenous Lands, Joy Monice Malnar and Frank Vodvarka have assembled a cogent collection of those designs and the principles behind them. Malnar, a professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Vodvarka, a fine arts professor at Loyola University Chicago, go beyond the subject of design to consider the  culture and tradition behind it. It’s a small antidote to the lament of Black Elk, a Lakota holy man: “The Wasichus have put us in these square boxes. Our power is gone and we are dying, for the power is not in us anymore.”

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