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Native American Cultural Design Elements for Tribal Justice Facilities

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2022
5 pages

Since tribal correctional philosophy recognizes the importance of incorporating the values and behaviors of tribal culture into rehabilitative efforts, this paper suggests ways to incorporate Native American cultural design elements into tribal justice facilities.


Collaborations that use federal, tribal, state, and local partners to design facilities that integrate culturally relevant modalities are recommended. Designing facilities for programs that reflect the criminal response process from custody through re-entry are essential. Native  American culture can be incorporated into the design process by incorporating Native American imagery and features that facilitate traditional and restorative justice. Native American imagery pertains to animals; shapes and specific imagery; and textiles, artifacts, and colors. Incorporation of cultural images relating to animals and nature can produce culturally dynamic environments. Nature elements such as water, greenery, animals that reflect spirituality, origin stories, and important aspects of tribal ways of life can support changes in behavior and inspiration. There are many shapes that may be of significance in Native American culture, with one of the most significant being the circle, which signifies equality, respect, family ties, and protection for some tribes. Textiles, artifacts, and colors can be a source of inspiration in the culture of the tribe. The use of space and room size must also be designed to facilitate counseling and treatment for mental illness and substance abuse. Images of illustrative designs are presented that show shapes and colors used for exterior and interiors, an exterior design that reflects an image consistent with start quilt, and a building design representing an eagle.   

Date Published: January 1, 2022