The Ohkay Owingeh Tribe and Pueblo in New Mexico has returned to its roots with an award-winning, mixed-income housing project based on traditional Native forms. It's an exciting and inspiring project.
Built by the Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority explicitly as an alternative to sprawl-type housing, Tsigo Bugeh Village is a $5.3 million residential community that reflects traditional pueblo living with attached units divided around two plazas, one oriented to the solstice and the other to the equinox, as the tribe’s original pueblo was built. As the Housing Authority’s website points out, the homes are attached, their scale and massing similar to the original Ohkay Owingeh pueblo: “this is key to our architectural heritage, and the idea of community living that is central to our way of life.”....
The Village was built pursuant to a larger master plan to guide the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo’s future. Bestowing a national award for smart growth achievement in 2004 (when the pueblo was known as the San Juan Pueblo), the federal Environmental Protection Agency hailed the plan as the first smart growth model for Native American tribes:
“It provides a long-term growth strategy, coordinates existing infrastructure with housing and commercial development, preserves the walkable historic plazas, and encourages retail and commercial uses in a ‘main street’ style. The plan also includes design guidelines that enhance the traditional building pattern to preserve the architectural heritage of the pueblo, fostering a distinctive sense of place.”
The Housing Authority’s website points out that “Tribal leaders realized that continuing to develop sprawl housing would severely limit the land base for agricultural use and open space for future generations.” A premium was placed on involvement from the Tribal community and respect for the Pueblo’s traditions:
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A new Native American village based on tradition helps a Tribe reclaim its sustainable roots