Dennis Sun Rhodes (Northern Arapahoe) led the design process for the Wakpa Sica Reconcilation Place. In Lakota, the translation for the building was “house of people who come together again to share and to bring peace and goodness” (Ibid, p.110). The process included five public roundtable conferences to gather input of individuals and tribes in the region. People were invited back to the workshop to review preliminary design concepts. It was vital that there was a public record of input, essentially recording the process and the contributions of members; it was also essential that the design direction was “collectively determined”(Ibid, p. 110).
As a basis for the design, Rhodes employed the traditional Sioux circle camp, complete with traditional bright colors, and an eagle’s head. Most interesting however was his approach to the internal spaces. Some areas of the facility were conceived to evoke a quality rather than a function, for example: Land, Kinship, Fortitude, Bravery (Ibid, p. 111). There are also locations in the school that denote important historical events, such as ‘Wounded Knee’ and ‘Boarding School’. In terms of site design, the buildings semi-circular form is enclosed with a number of tipis – a great opportunity to represent each of the local cultural groups of the area.
Note: While the additional buildings are presently on hold, the Wakpa Sica organization is in the process of applying for stimulus money to revive the center.
Image Credits: Malnar J. and F. Vodvarka (2013). New Architecture on Indigenous Lands, pp. 110, 111. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press