Fighting to Build on Tradition

Fighting to Build on Tradition


Hayoolkaal, Restore all my relations to the
natural world and universe. Here in the Dine’ bi keyah, the Navajo homeland,
we continue to teach and live by these values to stay in balance with the world that we
live in, to stay rooted in our traditions and to evolve those traditions to meet our
modern needs. In the fall of 2018, the University of Notre
Dame’s undergraduate architecture program was approached by the St. Michael Indian School
in Arizona’s Navajo Nation to develop a campus plan that would honor its history and Navajo
tradition. We haven’t always had that opportunity as
Dine’ people to give shape to the places that we build, and so, to be able to create
that architecturally it was transformative for the students and the community. We’ve learned that a building can be much
more than four walls. It should incorporate colors, beliefs and
symbols that are meaningful. We’ve also learned to consider things that
we wouldn’t have to think about elsewhere like positioning the building to the East
to welcome the new day and the community. This kind of experience is important for Notre
Dame students because we ground our curriculum in Greco-Roman Classicism. It is very important for our students to take
those fundamental lessons and then reinterpret them in other contexts. To be able to be involved in this project
as a student has really shown me the power of architecture and what we create and how
it will impact not only this generation but also many future generations to come. The University of Notre Dame asks, “What would
you fight for?” Fighting to build on tradition. We are the Fighting Irish.

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