Students, faculty and alumni worked collaboratively with community members to build a traditional Native teaching lodge on Grand Valley's campus, the first lodge built on public university land in Michigan.
The Three Fires Teaching Lodge is named for the people of the area — Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi — and located at the Sustainable Agriculture Project on Luce Street.
Andrea Riley Mukavetz, associate professor of integrative, religious and intercultural studies, is the faculty advisor to the Native American Student Association. Riley Mukavetz said NASA has long wanted a dedicated space for students to gather.
"This lodge is a space for Native students to come together," Riley Mukavetz said. "We started working on this project in 2020 and we are making space for students in different ways, such as through the land acknowledgement statement; this is yet another component." Anishinaabeg visibility is also incorporated within the Reach Higher 2025 commitments, she said.
In late June, more than 30 people worked for two days to construct the 48-foot by 16-foot lodge, led by lodge builder Jonathan Rinehart. Maple saplings measuring 20 feet long were gathered then bent and tied together; holes were dug for posts then filled with dirt and rocks. Riley Mukavetz said the lodge faces east to west and people enter through the east entrance. "Life begins in the east," she said.