Six years ago, after a two-year battle, we lost everything: our home, our vehicles, what little savings we had managed to accumulate. When the economy crashed in 2008, one of the first casualties was our clientele, the tourist trade on which Native artists depend for their livelihood. We tried to work out payment arrangements with the finance company that held the note on our manufactured home, to no avail. When I asked why they wouldn't want to work with us, to help us stay in our home so that they could keep getting paid, their representative said, "Because we don't have to
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. Since then, we've been lucky enough to have a roof over our heads in the form of an old RV, more than thirty years old, with ancient wiring and plumbing problems that leave us without running water some days during the winters. Then last fall, we had a small electrical fire that came within millimeters of being deadly.
One year ago today, October 1st, 2015, we launched the first stage of our fundraiser
, to take the initial steps toward building a modest house. [Here on tribal land, building is our only option; this is ancestral land passed down to Wings by his late mother.] Last fall, we got the site graded and filled and the well pump replaced, but then were halted by an early winter. We resumed again this spring, but with high-paying corporate construction jobs under way in the county right now, it took us several months to put a crew together — one with the skills and expertise we needed, and one that we could afford. We broke ground in July, and already, the work has far outpaced our expectations (and finances).
We always knew that this process would require constant fundraising, and that it would have to be done in stages. The third stage is now also complete: the slab poured, the adobes laid, the ground-level interior framework mostly done, the bond beam poured, the vigas installed, the ceiling installed, the upper-level subfloor laid, the first stages of the wiring begun.
This will be the most costly stage of the fundraiser, because we're racing against the clock to get all of the remaining essential work done at once: the upper-level framework; the insulation; the roof, the mudding in and plastering of the outside; the interior finish work, windows, and doors; the completion of the wiring; the interior plumbing work and installation of bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances; and the relocation and installation of the new septic system. Ordinarily, we would have broken what remains up into multiple stages, but we're nearly out of time. Neither gallery sales nor this fundraiser alone will be sufficient to cover all that must still be done. We're hoping that, in combination, they will supplement each other enough to allow us to finish this stage before the first big winter storm brings all construction to a halt.
We began this long and arduous journey one year ago today (October 1st). After six years without one, we at long last have the opportunity to have a real home (and to avoid another winter, and the prospect of another fire, in this place) — we finally have a chance at real and permanent shelter from the storm. Please help us make it a reality.