Hogan project underway in Cameron

CAMERON—With the site selected and the logs ordered, the first hogan of the Indigenous Community Enterprise (ICE) is just weeks away from construction. The project is a part of an effort to use small-diameter roundwood from area forests for local projects. According to Brett KenCairn, of Northern Arizona University’s Forestry Department, the project has the potential to bring 20-30 jobs to the reservation, and particularly to the Cameron area, where ICE hopes to build the manufacturing center for the logs, across the highway from the Chapter House. The logs are currently being manufactured in Eagar, Ariz.

The ICE will use these logs for affordable hogans and other products, both on and off the reservation. Besides the Cameron hogan—which will be used for ICE offices, the Cameron Tourism Association and as the office of the National Parks Tribal Liaison—more projects are in the works. The design has been completed for the Leupp Elementary School hogan, which should see construction begin sometime in February or March; a hogan has been ordered for the NAU campus and another for Tuba City.

The roundwood project is not only limited to hogans, however. ICE has also received orders for three log cabins. Nor must the project limit itself to the reservation. “ICE could sell hogans off the Navajo Nation, to be used as cabins or second homes, and people who are interested in the hogans would probably be interested in other Native products, like artistry. It could be a companion market,” said KenCairn.

KenCairn estimates that the cost of a hogan, complete with kitchen, bath and solid floor, at $30,000. Hogans which don’t need all that, like those for ceremonial purposes, would be significantly less. The hogan project has the potential to impact more than handful of people, points out KenCairn. In order to explore the possibilities for community development offered by the hogan project, ICE convened a larger group of partners and stakeholders last Thursday and Friday at the Cameron Chapter House. To conduct the workshop, ICE brought in Shanna Ratner of Yellow Wood Associates, Inc., a company that specializes in rural communty economic development. Participants were taken through a series of exercises to help them define their goals and identify what specific action must be taken to reach these goals.

“We are trying to reach out to the broadest array of people who have an interest in the success of this project and to identify steps and action we need to take to that end,” said KenCairn, pointing out the presence of Greyhills High School students, the Division of Economic Development, the Environmental Education Center out of Flagstaff, Native Sun, Navajo Nation and Chapter government officials, local educators, small business owners, and many others.

Miranda Morales, a senior at Greyhills High and a Cameron resident, is just one of the many who could benefit from the availability of hogans. Morales pointed out that a project like this could be good for the youth of the area by providing jobs and job training, and construction experience. And since she and her mother, Marie, are considering starting a hogan bed and breakfast, the roundwood project could not come at a better time.

The meeting was just the first step in valuable discussions for Cameron and surrounding areas, the first step in establishing, as one group said, “community enterprises that provide meaningful educational opportunities and goods (hogans and other roundwood products) that are profitable, respectful of cultural values and sustain the local natural resources.”

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