A Decolonial Project


This fall I traveled to Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico to support my brother Daryl Lucero in the defence of his Community Based Governance Project, a requirement to obtain his Masters of Arts in Indigenous Governance. His project consisted of an on the ground mobilization of community members to connect to the land and build a traditional adobe house and in the process reconnect to the fundamental foundations of who they are as indigenous people. However, the traditional method of acquiring the adobe bricks from the clay from the Rio Grande is no longer an option, simply because the Rio Grande is no longer the river system it once was. The current  water flow is not enough to create the natural clay that Isleta Pueblo has used for their traditional housing. This issue was highlighted in Colin Mcdonald's trek down the Rio Grande (http://riogrande.texastribune.org/blog/2014/8/19/).  Daryl project then took into considerations such as Climate Change, Water Crisis and Upstream usage  and summed up the current issue by stating “We are working twice as hard for something that used to be so natural for us.” 

Daryl and a collective of community members decided to make adobe bricks and build an adobe house anyway. However,  Due to housing regulations and Tribal Council bureaucracy this also had its own set of challenges that limited the growth and potential of the housing project. 

"...when it came time to begin our traditional building process the question that kept coming up was "who do we need to get permission from?" This question was humorous in that permission from the colonial governing system (Chief and Council) became culturally instinctual.  Over time this question became irrelevant and an embarrassment to us as indigenous people, "why do we need approval to build on our own land the way we have since?... Well, forever!" It was not only unrealistic to expect to see "official" council members out on the land helping with this Decolonial building project, but also interesting to experience the unveiling of the imbedded thought that we later found to be a mockery to our indigenous nationhood. Why should we have to ask permission to build from irrelevant individuals and irrelevant systems of bureaucracy..." -DL ( Thesis Excerpt)

They decided to build the house anyway and refer to their inherent right as indigenous people. In this process the construction of a home actually deconstructed the bureaucratic, physical and even psychological barriers and limitations that limited the project from achieving its full potential. The photo is off the wall of Daryl's house that him and a community collection built for a traditional leader.