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Architecture students help build substainble Homes for Native American Resevations

By Siena Morgan
On March 8, 2011


Timothy Emerson, a senior architecture student, was browsing when a notice, "drawing and drafting help needed," caught his eye. He sent off an e-mail, not realizing that the project he was getting into was going to be more than just drafting help.

Emerson, in cooperation with the First Nations Native American Student Association of Norwich University, is working on a project to build affordable, environmentally friendly homes for reservations across the country.

"I try to help out whenever I can" Emerson said, "The project seemed really reasonable in the time-frame (it) was needed in."

Cherylanne Linares of the Blackfeet tribe, a nursing student, and also president of the First Nations club on campus, began the project as an extension of her former work with her own reservation back in Montana.

"There's a huge housing shortage on reservations across the country, and as representative to the economic development, I wanted to do what I could to help even from across the country" Linares said.

Linares said that asking for help from Norwich architecture students, would provide some publicity and bring the First Nations club onto the map here on campus.

The building project is still in its developmental stages, and won't be finished until the end of the semester.

The housing project isn't the only major work going on at the First Nations club.

Since its inception last October, the club's main goal has been to bring awareness.

The club functions as a diversity and awareness group that includes a traditional dance team, and a traditional drum.

They are also working with the Northfield Labor Day Committee to plan a pow-wow during this year's Labor Day festivities.

"Pow-wows are a religio-philosophical outlet for first-nations students to practice spirituality," said Professor Molly Fuller of the Algonquin tribe and faculty advisor for the club. "It's also a socially expressive place to include all people."

Norwich is the last of the military universities in the country to have an association with the First Nations, according to Linares. "It's sad because of the presence of the warrior in tribes," said Linares.

"There's also a strong cultural narrative of service, a subtext of culture of service," Fuller said.

Along with cultural benefits and diversity, the club offers a learning experience for some of its members. "I know some of my native background, this is a good learning experience," said Dyamond Maskell, a 22 year-old nursing major from Hardwick, Vt. "I have no background in native dancing, so I'm here and willing to learn"

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