New Mexico is home to 23 Indian tribes, including 19 Pueblos, three Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation. These sovereign nations bring rich history, culture and traditions to our state, along with unique perspectives to students wishing to study indigenous concepts. Now, steadfast supporters of The University of New Mexico are making sure the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute (iD+Pi) will remain a fixture of the School of Architecture and Planning. 

“The Indigenous Design and Planning Institute is a one-of-a-kind institution in the nation,” said Michaela Shirley, iD+Pi program specialist. “Some of our colleagues in Canada and New Zealand are doing groundbreaking work with their scholarship, but we are the only ones with a dedicated center.”

The Indigenous Design and Planning Institute (iD+Pi) was established in 2011 with the goal of preparing faculty, students, professionals and community leaders to be able to educate and inform on Indigenous design and planning. Through its academic, professional and tribal pathways, iD+Pi charges its participants to be leaders in culturally responsive practices. 

“It’s specifically designed to engage faculty, students and professionals in looking at how you can go about doing design and planning from an informed cultural and identity-driven platform,” said iD+Pi Director Ted Jojola. “Our mission is to assist those who are ready to really engage in a meaningful way. And a lot of that interest is around community engagement.”

iD+Pi provides expertise and resources to tribes throughout New Mexico by helping them plan and implement sustainable, healthy, thriving communities while supporting projects based in planning and design.

“It’s about building a sense of resiliency in these communities by drawing on their traditional knowledge, their language, and how they did things before colonialism,” Jojola said. “They can then move forward and be supported in furthering their own vision.”

An endowed gift made by the Rainosek family to benefit iD+Pi will support all facets of the program. Dorothy and Larry Rainosek, longtime supporters of UNM, opened the Frontier Restaurant in 1971 after relocating to Albuquerque from Austin, Texas. The Rainoseks are also the owners of Albuquerque’s Golden Pride BBQ Chicken & Ribs establishments with four locations in Bernalillo County. They have two adult children, who are both are UNM alumni and both of whom were UNM Presidential Scholars. 

“The Rainosek family has been very generous to our school and program, we are incredibly thankful for their continued support. This endowment will support our mission of not only providing planning and design services to Indigenous communities, but also in raising awareness and education of those communities within non-native students and faculty here at UNM,” Jojola said. “We also receive funding for our staff from the Surdna Foundation, as well as other contracts and networking, which have allowed us to become sustainable in how we go about supporting our projects.”

Students can currently study to receive their Master of Community and Regional Planning with a concentration in Indigenous Planning. iD+Pi is also helping to design a proposal for a Ph.D. program, with a release date yet to be announced.

Those interested in supporting iD+Pi with a financial donation can do so through the UNM Foundation donation website. Those interested in providing an endowed gift to support this or other programs at the School of Architecture and Planning can contact Laurie Roche, Director of Development for SA&P, at or 505-277-6443.