Apache Builds is a program by members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe to provide sustainable, affordable housing and integral trade skill training to community members. We need to send our 2 on-site building instructors and a program coordinator to get certified in a number of natural building techniques such as cob and straw bale construction so they can share the knowledge through ongoing community workshops and lead construction projects for the community.
Dependence on agencies like HUD is a severe impedance to tribal sovereignty. Current HUD housing developments on the reservation are sub-standard, too few, and placed in a way that disrupts family and clan structures and separates people from their farmland, sometimes over an hours drive away. With fewer people farming, less water is allocated by the government for tribal use, reducing capacity for future projects and development.
If we place the knowledge and resources to construct our own housing back into the hands of the community, we'll have greater access to agricultural production, sovereignty over water rights, and agency in determining our own futures. By training local instructors to lead, we will decrease dependence on outside consulting, design, and oversight. This will not only conserve resources in the long run, but also help maintain tribal sovereignty in the development and progress of Apache Builds.
The struggle for tribal sovereignty is ongoing, and every facet of self-determination that we can regain control of is a big step in that struggle. Determination of where we live is foundational to gaining agency in all other facets of life. Success is always compounded, and small wins, like having on-site trainers from the community, give a much stronger foothold to move forward with larger programs.