Yá’át’ééh! Greetings to you all!
We are Kim and Makai! We are from the Diné Nation!
We would love to have you come join us to build our dream homestead on our ancestral homelands on Dine’ Bikeyah (Navajo Nation). This straw bale workshop will be located in St. Michaels, AZ on the Navajo Nation/Reservation. This workshop will be the beginning of a series of workshops on natural building on our ancestral homeland. We plan to build structures of straw bale, adobe, hemp and earth bags throughout the reservation.
This work is fundamentally about bringing greater health and justice to our people and the land. Our homelands have been targeted with the siting of coal plants, uranium mining, oil and gas fracking wells which have taken an enormous toll on the health of our community and the land.
Our waters are contaminated. Our air is contaminated. And our bodies are suffering from long-term exposure to pollutants. We have systemic issues with water access, food access, access to quality housing, and to health care. As we continue to fight fossil fuel extraction in our community – we also work to educate our relatives about the threats.
As citizen scientists we focus on the impacts of the fossil fuel industry on our land, water and bodies to heal and create solutions for our community. Over the past few years we have worked on health impact assessments, water catchment systems and soil remediation projects. Our goal is to create a healthy environment so that we can then plant seeds and build community infrastructure.
Aside from our work on the ground we work to build community solutions and fight for institutional changes so that we can generate alternative, sustainable economies at the tribal, state and federal level. In order to plan for our future we need to root deeply in the wisdom of our ancestors and the lands that sustain us.
We imagine thriving community centers/spaces (built naturally) where we can come together to imagine an alternative reality to the systems imposed on us. Here we can organize together to manifest our dreams at the relational scale, the community scale, the government scale, and in relation to state policies that are imposed by the United States’ colonial presence in our territories.
By creating our traditional dwellings for gathering and living and working and remediating the soil we will be returning to Diné teachings and alignment with the seasons, and it will be a way to connect the wisdom of our past teachers to future generations
This building project is part of a bigger vision that encompasses an array of regenerative activities that help support organizers, strengthen community resilience through the development of both organizing and physical infrastructure and help our Diné relatives connect with ancestral ways of life.
This is a pilot homestead project that will have the broader goal of strengthening communities and traditional practices. We see these pilot homesteads as future community hubs or satellites that can become decolonial learning centers to help strengthen the enormous Diné Nation by connecting nodes.
We want to decolonize housing infrastructure and make building a home an empowering process that is accessible to all. Deep in the coronavirus, we now see this as not getting “back to normal” but an opportunity to create a new normal. We don’t want Diné people to be taken away from their homes to “learn” and take on debt.
These homesteads are the classroom. People can stay in community and connect with one another in the Diné way as they learn the skills of living the same way our ancestors have. We want to make this decolonial information MORE accessible to community members and allow whoever wants to to be able to participate and reconnect. We have the opportunity now to learn outside of institutions, where people can stay included in the community, learn ceremonies, learn songs, connect with elders, and become more connected to ancestral practices.
Through these pilot homesteads, people will be able to reinvest their time and energy back into the community. People can stay in community and connect with one another in the Diné way as they learn the skills of off grid ancestral living.
We will be upholding our Navajo Nation’s public health order, and respectfully ask guests coming to our territory to mask up and take COVID-19 precautions. As many of you know our homeland, Diné Bikéyah (The Navajo Nation) has faced and endured the highest rate per-capita of COVID-19 cases than any settler-colonial U.S. state the past year. This didn’t happen because of the lack of power lines and plumbing nor did it happen just because there aren’t massive corporate stores on every corner of our reservation. It happened because a lot of our people’s health was compromised by the ongoing colonial violence and violence against the earth which made our people more susceptible to viruses such as COVID-19. We have lost a lot of relatives during the past year. For this reason, we want to continue to keep our communities and workshop participants safe.
Meals will be provided by our comrades from the Seeds Of Peace Collective; a collective that we have volunteered with and that has supported us in the past with other projects. Since 1986, the Seeds Of Peace Collective has provided logistical support and training to activists struggling on the front lines for social, environmental, and economic justice. They will provide us with entree options for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores.
Alcohol is illegal on Dine’ Bikeyah (Navajo Nation). As such, this will be a dry/alcohol free workshop. Thank you for honoring this mandate.
Our project is to build a 1,600 square foot workshop with Andrew’s straw bale building workshop series while simultaneously building an ancestral Hogan Structure with our community. These both will be our first buildings on our land. We spent 2 summers remediating this land. We are currently working with architects and engineers to develop the design and framing.
We participated in the 2021 Montezuma, NM Casita Guest House Workshop, and left the workshop inspired by everything that Andrew has taught us and the sense of community that everyone brought to the workshop. We would love to bring that same positive feeling and more to this workshop and to everyone that will be joining us!