Indigenous Design and Planning Institute (iD+Pi)

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About iD+Pi

In the fall of 2011, iD+Pi was created by the School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico, with the goal of crafting an initiative to educate and inform Indigenous design and planning. iD+Pi engages faculty, students, professionals, and community leaders in culturally responsive practices through three principal areas of activity: Academic, Professional, and Tribal.

The three major programs in the School of Architecture and Planning all work in an interdisciplinary fashion with iD+Pi in an effort to provide an informative, engaging learning environment centered on Indigenous design and planning practice.

Tribes located predominantly in New Mexico and the Southwest can utilize SA+P’s expertise and resources to support projects that include aspects of design and planning. The overarching goal of this initiative is to foster sustainable communities among Indigenous populations—communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.

For more information, visit the iD+Pi website

Indigenous [in’dijənəs] Design and Planning

Indigenous design and planning paradigms are not new concepts. The principles involved are a reformation of practices that have been used by ‘traditional’ communities for millennia. Before such traditions were banned or usurped by Euro-western agencies, tribal societies planned their communities and designed their own places. 

Indigenous concepts are formulated on practices associated with land tenure. Land tenure is distinguished by long and sustained patterns of collective ownership. Such ownership was sustained over successive generations in a manner that is informed by the past, invested in the present, and builds a vision toward the future. This is known as the seven generations model.

In contrast, the Euro-western approach is temporal and based on the regulation of land use. Landholders have a privileged position in society. The embodiment of design and planning practice from this perspective is to protect and secure an individual’s capital gain. Indigenous communities did not fare well under such colonial and neo-colonial regimes due to the contrast between land tenure and land use.

At the root of this conflict is how lands and resources are conveyed for those who are not yet born. Sustainability becomes the embodiment of collective action. The land and its resources become a birthright and the primary vehicle for maintaining stewardship.

Given the legacy of the seven generations model, it becomes easier to understand how Indigenous communities evolved distinctive world-views. Such world-views embodied values that were essential toward attaining a balanced and symmetrical interrelationship between humankind and the natural environment. The imprints of this relationship are the unique cultures that evolved in time and place. For information on these concepts, visit the iD+Pi website



Watch Director Ted Jojola’s Welcome Video




Ted Jojola, Director

Michaela Shirley, Program Manager

Chelsey Begay, Program Coordinator