April 25, 2022
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) approved funding for Indigenizing Design, an initiative that aims to co-design processes with indigenous communities. Led by Catapult Design, the program’s goals are to expand justice and equity which, historically, have been excluded from traditional design practices.
Indigenizing Design includes two projects: Native Design Identity and Native Design Learning Pathways.
Native Design Identity — Working alongside tribal communities in the Phoenix, Arizona region, the Native Design Identity program will develop a design language and methodology targeted to indigenous communities. Through interactive workshops and working sessions, this program is designed to create frameworks that will empower residents to confront conditions that have long challenged Native communities.
Native Design Learning Pathways — This place-based design curriculum will offer residents of Native communities training in design skills and processes. Because indigenous communities have long been excluded from traditional design discourse, many residents lack the training and theory to address existing conditions. This program will provide essential tools aimed at building resilience and equity within tribal settings.
To carry out this work, Catapult Design has partnered with a broad team of collaborators. In addition to the active participation of local residents, the team includes IndigeDesign Collab, Indigenous Community Collaboration, Eunique Yazzie, Melody Lewis, and Brian Skeet.
Catapult Design has long partnered with Indigenous communities across the U.S. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, Catapult worked with the Navajo and Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief Fund to provide critical public health information with communication strategies targeted to those specific populations.
The project will commence in March 2022, and it will proceed through January 2023.
“For too long, too many designers have overlooked indigenous communities, resulting in a condition of extreme inequity. With this National Endowment for the Arts supported program, and together with local communities and our team of partners, we look forward to focusing design services and applying design thinking alongside these Indigenous communities,” says Angela Hariche, CEO of Catapult Design.
“As an Indigenous woman who successfully practices design in various forms, I have come to learn that it is through our ancestral paths of knowledge, language, art, ceremony, and storytelling that enables us to carry on. What we value becomes a pathway for future generations. We were scientists, astrologists, mappers, engineers, and designers with knowledge gained from our symbiotic existence with the land. It is time to collaborate to revitalize these Indigenous perspectives,” says Eunique Yazzie, Designer, Collaborator, and Co-Founding Member of Cahokia LLC
“As a multidisciplinary Designer representing the Diné people, I strive to cultivate and drive Community-centered solutions with Non-Indigenous and Indigenous Students, Educators, and Professionals within the Design, Research, and Emerging Tech space. We are still here and our Traditional Knowledge and worldview can heal and renew our relationship with Father sky and Mother Earth. With Indigenous Designers and the vast array of educational and professional pathways within the Design Field alone, Indigenizing Design Thinking and Community-based solutions is vital for our future generations to thrive,” says Brian Skeet, Owner/Designer of Brian Skeet Design LLC. Cahokia Ambassador. IDSA (Industrial Design Society of America) – DEIC Leader. IDSA – PHX Chapter – DEIC Liason
Catapult Design is a non-profit product and service design firm that works with socially-driven organizations to build forward-looking, accessible, and market-based products and services that give low-income and underserved people reliable tools to improve their quality of life. Its team of designers, engineers, and business specialists are dedicated to creating solutions to social problems with people and planet at the forefront.
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