Browning High School, Browning, Mont., is situated on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and is designed to preserve the tribe's rich history. The 800-student facility for grades 9 to 12 integrates Blackfeet Indian culture into every aspect of its design.
The main entrance to the building faces east and will feature a canopy that resembles the shape of a tipi. Images of the Big Dipper and Pleiades constellations, the same symbols found on the smoke flaps of Blackfeet tipis, decorate the building. The sun will be incorporated into the flooring at the school's entrance, and the moon will be represented in the office commons area. Triangles, representing buffalo heads, will be grouped around a circle in the cafeteria, and the morning star will be situated at the westernmost edge of the media center, facing the mountains. A circular seating pattern in classrooms continue the tribe's tradition of storytelling and creates a more meaningful learning environment.
The Blackfeet Indians' respect for the land is translated into numerous sustainable-design features, including a biomass boiler system for heating, similar to a traditional tipi. This system uses forest biomass, such as small-diameter trees, shrubs and debris from logging operations and forest fuel-reduction projects, which typically are piled up and burned as waste. The boiler is expected to burn 1,250 tons of locally grown fuel each year, while saving the district about $48,600 annually.