Otomi Nation Natural Building Project and Indigenous Knowledge Exchange

April 27 – May 6, 2008
Outside of Temoaya, Mexico

The Sustainable Nations Otomi Nation Indigenous Knowledge Exchange Program was a powerful success! Our team consisted of seven Indigenous people from the north, many members of the Otomi community of San Pedro Arriba, a team of Indigenous students from a nearby University, and people from the surrounding villages. We arrived, and upon introductions and a basic plan overview, set to work! Participants received a wide range of training, from truss construction, to basic straw bale building and plastering.

We constructed the clinic through the base plaster coat, and prepared a finish plaster crew. This plaster crew is currently completing the building with the support of a local Mexican sustainable development organization called CRECES. We additionally constructed three composting toilets for the training, designed to fit the lifestyles of the families in San Pedro. Part of the team from the University filmed a documentary about the process that we look forward to sharing as soon as it is produced!

Many people from the community came to work on the clinic, and we always had a crew of children ready to help! One of the strongest parts of the exchange occurred when we built the plaster pit. Elders began emerging from their homes, excited to see that the way we built the pit was the same way that they traditionally built their adobe pits! They showed us the way they mix adobe, and several of them were very proud to show us their professional plastering techniques. What a gift!

We shared stories, songs, gifts, food, and inspiration. We were immersed in the life of the community, and became very close with several families. Several participants received treatments from the traditional doctor, and one was shown some traditional Otomi medicine techniques, and invited to apprentice!

Another strong emergence from this training is the creation of Sustainable Nations Mexico. The remarkable organizing ability of our lead contact, as well as the commitment of the team she organized has led us to partner, forming Sustainable Nations Mexico, a branch of Sustainable Nations to serve the projects they are accomplishing there!