Tamara Eagle Bull, FAIA
Native American advocacy, community development
Tamara Eagle Bull, FAIA, received the 2018 Whitney Young Award for her preservation and respectful representation of Native American culture within tribal-built environments. A member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, Eagle Bull is the first Native American woman to become a licensed U.S. architect. She serves as president of Encompass Architects in Lincoln, Nebraska, which she cofounded with her husband and design partner Todd Hesson, AIA. Eighty percent of the firm’s portfolio concentrates on work for Native tribes.
“[W]hether it is gas station or government building, the tribes always want culture to be a part of it,” Eagle Bull said in an AIA interview. “A lot of non-Native architects go to tribes and expect them to open up and share everything right off the bat . . . Knowing how to ask those questions in a respectful way is key.”
Eagle Bull’s projects include the Gila River Indian Community Governance Center in Sacaton, Arizona, and the Justice Center in Kyle, South Dakota. Her firm also designed proposals on behalf of the Oglala Sioux Tribe for a forthcoming memorial at the Wounded Knee Massacre site. Eagle Bull is an executive board secretary at the American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers, where she helped establish a partnership with the National Organization of Minority Architects.