Less than 0.5% of AIA members are Native American and less than a handful are Native American women architects.
We are fortunate in the Western New York region to be geographically located near many Native American communities in both the Southtowns and the Northtowns. We have the opportunity to reach out in these communities to provide programming to children and adults who may not otherwise have opportunity to learn about architecture and design.
In March 2015, with funding and support provided by American Institute of Architects National Diversity and Inclusion Council, Tamarah Begay, AIA visited Buffalo to work with Native American students from Lake Shore Middle School and gave a public lecture at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.
Tamarah is the first female member of the Native American Navajo tribe to become an architect and an AIA member. Tamarah is principal-in-charge at Indigenous Design Studio + Architecture, LLC (IDS+A) in Albuquerque, N.M., an architectural and planning firm that works predominately with Native American tribes. Begay has more than 12 years of experience with tribal work in public safety, judicial, residential, commercial, office facilities, educational facilities, housing projects, cultural centers, multi-purpose buildings, feasibility studies and master planning. She is a graduate of the University of New Mexico, where she was a founding member of the Student Chapter of the American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers. She is currently an adjunct professor at University of New Mexico’s Indigenous Design + Planning Institute where she teaches Navajo Planning and Design, the first course of its kind.
Student Workshop: Tamarah, along with volunteers from the Architecture + Education program and UB NOMAS hosted a three-day workshop at Lake Shore Middle School to introduce architecture and design concepts to the students. Students learned about Navajo planning principles and built models of a Hogan, which is a traditional dwelling of the Navajo people.
Public Lecture: On Thursday March 26, 2015, Tamarah gave a lecture to a packed room at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. The lecture focused on Tamarah’s story of becoming an architect, and how her heritage and story have shaped the focus on her research, practice and outreach.
We hope to add this workshop to our list of annual events.
Click here to view more pictures from the workshop and lecture.