Twelve Architectures:Aboriginal Culture and Architecture out of the Grand River Watershed


We are all indigenous peoples of this Earth, and we need to come together in our original identities to nurture our relationships together in respectful and meaningful ways. Out of that encounter arises authentic and beautiful architectural expression.

For thousands of years the places/spaces of the Grand River watershed have hosted the occupations and cultures of native peoples. They are all still here in some identity [actual, adopted, or integrated]. The landscape surrounding Lake Ontar:io “the beautiful water” and Lake Erie are sacred to three aboriginal cultures – Wendat, Haudenausaunee and Anishnabec. In their continuing adjustments to settler encounters and migrations, the community surrounding the small village of Ohsweken on the Grand River has become the homeland of the Six Nations.

As Architects, it behooves us to understand the origins of place held in the land itself examined through the rituals of archaeological investigation and recording, and to respectfully confer with the memories of our aboriginal Elders for grounding and guidance. These are the ancient and necessary protocols out of which all design and use of materials spring most naturally and profoundly.

Here at Waterloo Architecture Cambridge the primary place in this search is located fifty kilometers south along the banks of the Grand River at Six Nations – the sanctuary of the Iroquois, or Haudenausaunee, culture today. Haudenausaunee translates “people who build the long house” imparting the culture with a uniquely architectonic identity and duty making it particularly relevant to architects. In the deepest sense, all true architecture is practiced as cultural “duty”, but to do this one must be conscious of what actually comprises one’s culture as an indigenous person

As an Architect and carrier of Haudenausaunee blood, it is my “duty” to share with you this fundamental knowledge. Mine will be an attempt to convey an architectonic teaching through the lens of Iroquoian culture at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.