New designs focus on symbolism, tribal rituals and eco-friendly features
The design of each building in the four-building complex will support tribal identity and traditions. And each building will represent a step in the development of a child, a deliberate hierarchy that brings children into contact with older children and ultimately adults. An exterior fire pit and story circle as well as a freestanding fireplace in the library will support the tribe’s oral tradition.
A sacred circle at the center of the campus acknowledges an orientation of the four directions and a belief that life is a journey from east to west, infancy to old age, as the sun crosses the sky. The building forms that radiate from the circle incorporate universal elements of the sea, the valley and mountain into a unified whole.
Wisconsin’s Indian Community School meanders ribbon-like for a quarter of a mile on a 124-acre site that includes wetlands, hills, prairies and woodlands.
At one end of the building, an amphitheater around a tree symbolizes the tradition of oral history for the Oneida, Menomonee and Stockbridge-Munsee Indian tribes. Metal beams in the ceiling near the main doorway represent the migratory paths of birds and a breakout classroom overlooks wetlands.
Needless to say, all this effort to incorporate traditional values into Native schools is happening because of Indian gaming.
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