BACAVI, Ariz. - The Red Feather Development Group, a non-profit organization, is currently on the Hopi Reservation. Red Feather's mission is to "to partner with American Indian nations to develop and implement sustainable solutions to the housing needs within their communities." Within the last month, Red Feather has been constructing a new home for Bacavi residents Marie and Ardell Nachie, according to Ben Yeomans, Director of Development.
Yeomans said that homes are built yearly for qualified individuals who submit an application. They must qualify for a loan through the Hopi Credit Association, have a homesite land assignment and put in sweat equity. A homeowner must put in 64 hours of work into the home. Marie was stuccoing on this particular day and Ardell - an electrician - wired the home. He says past homeowners as well as relatives have come out to help including an army of volunteers who sign up to volunteer, pay a fee and come from all over the country to help build the home. This particular week he had 21 volunteers. Tribal members are able to volunteer and the fee is waived.
According to Yeomans, this home will be built within four weeks. Right now Red Feather builds two homes a year in Hopi and another in the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in southeast Montana. He says the cultures are different. One big difference is the Hopi still live in their traditional homes. They have been holding presentations at the Hopi Cultural Center showing the building process and giving applications to potential candidates.
Red Feather utilizes straw bale technology to build energy efficient homes. Straw bale has advantages such as being a natural material, it is a waste byproduct of grain that is usually burned, and it also supports the local economy and enables much less wood use, which means fewer trees are cut down. This leads to very little energy used in heating and cooling the home. To date, five homes have been built in Hopi and three in Northern Cheyenne. The rest of the time is spent working with applicants and doing paperwork, according to Yeomans.
Mark Jensen, Construction Program Director, explained that straw bale rating is much lower that a typical two by four home or a cinderblock home. It is a much better way to build a home and most families see a reduction in their heating bills.
Currently there is an organization called the Kii Nat wan lalwa headed by Victor Lee Masayesva and Beverly Honahne to start building homes for the Hopi community with the Red Feather model.
For more information, visit www.redfeather.org or call Yeomans at (928) 401-5100.