Institute Plans Indian Center

Reprint: San Bernardino Sun

November 23, 2001

Institute Plans Indian Center

Hesperia Lakes Park likely site of Four Directions culture and education center

HESPERIA - A non-profit Native American cultural institute is scouting for a permanent home in the High Desert, and Hesperia lakes Park is the likely location.

Four Directions Institute of Hesperia is asking the Hesperia Recreation and Parks District to approve an Indian culture and education center that may share space with the proposed John Swisher Museum and Nature Center at the park.

Administrator Cal Camara said the district is "offering the institute an opportunity to co-partner a facility at Hesperia Lakes at the site of the proposed museum and nature center which is already under way on three acres of land."

Camara said the Indian center at the park would occupy the 15 unfinished "sandbag" dome structures designed by Hesperia architect Nadir Kalili, founder of Cal-Earth.

The 15 small dome building have a combined floor space of more than 10,000 square feet. The district has run into difficulties finding grants to finish Kaliliís experimental construction project, using a method that was intended to pioneer low cost housing in Third World countries, Camara said.

"The Four Directions Institute is popular now for grants, and there is a possibility now we can marry ideas for the institute and our museum and nature center because funding for the park districts has been hard to find.", Camara said.

"The instituteís immediate need is an educational building with classrooms, library, and computer room, but whatever we wind up with, weíll get the John Swisher museum collection in and make room for them as well."

The cultural center and park district museum partnership was approved in concept by the districtís board Nov, 14.

Institute spokesman Larry Sunderland met Wednesday with Cal Camara and said he was satisfied with the progress. He said the institute has not had a permanent home for some time.

"We were in Wrightwood for a while and have had classes at Cal State San Bernardino, Lytle Creek, and other facilities. Sunderland said, We get a room here, and we get a room there."

He said the institute was on the verge of buying property at Lytle Creek when it was suggested he call Camara about Hesperia Lakes.

Sunderland said the Hesperia Lakes location is excellent and the design of Kaliliís buildings can be retrofitted to give them an American Indian architectural appearance.

He is hoping the project can be ready for occupancy by summer 2003.

"The institute is a graduate level school of Native American studies whose classes, institutes, and workshops are accredited by the California State University and the University of California systems and the Los Angeles Unified School District (for their teachers)." he said.

The institute also offers workshop-type arts and crafts classes, he said.

"Esteemed Indian artisans are brought to the facility to teach their skill under the supervision of qualified professors. The primary goal of the program is to preserve art forms that are exposed to extinction, Sunderland said.

"We offer classes on a lot of subjects, mostly Native American studies classes for postgraduate students and most of them are teachers.

"The institute has also published a workbook for third and fourth grades on California Indian history and culture and plans to have one out next year for fifth graders.", Sunderland said.