A project merging high technology with the traditional Navajo housing design has received cautious reviews from seven representatives of the Navajo Housing Authority, officials say.
The University of Colorado project is designed to prove to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development that affordable housing for Navajos can be more sensitive to their needs. It is funded by a federal loan and being built with donated supplies, according to Dennis Holloway, head of the project.The prototyope under construction on the Boulder campus combines solar and other environmentally safe technologies with Navajo structures called "hogans."
Members of the Navajo Housing Authority visiting last week said it was strange to see something common to their Arizona reservation in an unfamiliar place.
"I had a feeling of helplessness when I saw them," said Gil Arviso of the Navajo Housing Authority. "It was like something familiar was taken from our reservation and stuck here, and nobody told us and nobody asked our permission.
"We do not think of (a hogan) as a commodity. We do not think about its resale value. It is home, a place where I can go and not be hurt, where I can get nurtured," Arviso said.
Holloway has submitted a proposal to HUD to build 175 units on the reservation. He is hoping the Navajo Housing Authority will support the proposal.
"It is a very good possibility that we can use the plans. I like the way it was built - and it's a very good possibility we can use (students) to help us build them," Arviso said.
The prototype now being built will house six Navajo students.
Arviso told the students: "Your chiefs are telling you to treat that house with respect. You will not abuse it , you will not misuse it for entertaining. You will use it as a place of worship and it will protect you. We do not want a wrong image coming from this place."