Solution Overview

Solution Name:

CAHOKIA: Socialtech + Artspace

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One-line solution summary:

Cahokia is designed to support the development of Indigenous youth in Entrepreneurship, Art, Design & Tech., from an Indigenous perspective.

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Pitch your solution.

1. In Arizona, Native High School Students make up less than 4% of the overall student population. Nationwide, Native college students make up less than 1% of the College student population. Indigenous youth and young professionals often find themselves statistically “insignificant” in western academic institutions, as well as the workforce. This leads to a fractured sense of place, which causes Native Students and Professionals to feel invisible and misrepresented.

2. The solution is offering skilled training by Indigenous Professionals and Leaders in Entrepreneurship, Art, Design, and/or Technology from an Indigenous perspective within an Indigenized physical space. 

3. The destruction and erasure of Indigenous people due to Western colonization is not localized to the Americas but is a pattern across the globe. We hope that our case studies and research will inspire Indigenous educators, leaders, and professionals from around the world to Indigenize space for future generations.

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What specific problem are you solving?

Forcing Indigenous worldview (community-based decision making) to conform to a Western worldview (self-based decision making), is like trying to push a square peg into a round hole. The Western frame-of-mind dominates many spaces, including K-12 education, higher education, and the workforce. This, over time, becomes ingrained into the Indigenous mindset, often leading to a fractured sense of place and self-image. Indigenous students and workers often feel “invisible” and are often statistically “insignificant.” Data shows in 20 Arizona High Schools, Native Students make up less than 4% of the student population. Nationwide, Native college students make up less than 1% of the college student population. These factors often result in increased dropout rates, a stifled career path, often leading to poverty, substance abuse, suicide, and generational trauma.

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What is your solution?

Our solution is Cahokia; an Indigenized Space that offers skilled training by Indigenous Professionals and Leaders in Entrepreneurship, Art, Design and/or Emerging Technology. Cahokia’s approach to implementing education, workshops and training will be grounded in an Indigenous pedagogy and curriculum. This Indigenized learning environment and collaborative creative space will foster young entrepreneurs, designers and artists to utilize the tools, technology and supplies in order to amplify their work, all the while offering skilled training to be competitive in Entrepreneurship, Art, Design and/or Tech Industry. 

Having Indigenous Professionals and Leaders is important because Indigenous students are more likely to succeed in places where their Indigenous culture is welcomed and encouraged. In addition, when students learn from Indigenous Professionals and Leaders, they often will visualize a future of possibilities for themselves and won’t be discouraged to continue their passion in Entrepreneurship, Art, Design and/or Emerging Technology.

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Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit?

Arizona is home to 22 Federally recognized tribes. Downtown Phoenix sits on the homeland of the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee Posh (Maricopa) people. The Phoenix area is also hub for Indigenous Entrepreneurs, Designers and Artists, because resources and education is accessible. Cahokia is founded within the Phoenix area, and dedicated to developing solutions with Indigenous participants through workshops and curriculum in Entrepreneurship, Design, Art and Technology.  

Cahokia will serve a variety of different Indigenous communities and the participants will be encouraged to share what they have learned within the workshops with their communities.  However, the participants drive the development of their solution with further support and facilitation, if needed.

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Which dimension of the Fellowship does your solution most closely address?

Support language and cultural revitalization, quality K-12 education, and support for first-generation college students
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

Iindigenous knowledge, models, methods, and content within formal or non-formal educational systems are vital to Indigenous educators, students and communities.  When Indigenous students see other Indigenous Professionals and Leaders making a difference in their industry, it is likely those students will be empowered to overcome hardships to pursue their passion.  In addition, those facilitating, have an opportunity to give to their community and share their knowledge to the younger generation of entrepreneurs, designers, artists and technologists

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Phoenix, AZ, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

The community where we to deploy Cahokia, will be in the Roosevelt Row Arts District within Downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The community is a diverse in culture, but has little representation for the Indigenous community.  However, Phoenix has been a hub for Indigenous Entrepreneurs, Designers and Artists coming from the 22 Federally recognized Tribal Communities of Arizona.  Some attend Arizona State University and/or others take advantage of the infrastructure and resources to build a better future for themselves and generations to come. Cahokia’s intention is to Indigenize Space and foster collaboration for Indigenous Entrepreneurs, Designs, Artists and Technologists from various Indigenous communities.  We have also tested the collaboration between Indigenous Entrepreneurs, Designs and Artists and have seen a huge success.  It has created a demand for a space for Indigenous creatives and entrepreneurs to congregate and share ideas.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Brian Skeet

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Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your primary delegate.

Diné

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Is your primary delegate a member of the community in which your project is based?

Yes
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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
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Describe what makes your solution innovative?

What makes Cahokia an Innovative Solution? Cahokia: SocialTech and Artspace, is an Indigenized space that offers an approach to learning, teaching and career development that is grounded in Indigenous knowledge, pedagogy and curriculum.  At Cahokia, one of the main objectives is to incorporate existing tech, emerging tech, and Indigenous knowledge to generate possible solutions to problems within their own communities. The Indigenization of space, facilitation and real-world workshops is important to foster an environment where solutions can generate from the Indigenous problem solving process without judgement. It is vital to develop strong relationships between collaborators of Indigenous students and facilitators.  Having a space that is operated by other Indigenous collaborators gives participants that ability to self-determine their space.  As an outcome, this can lead to more effective learning strategies for Indigenous participants.

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

To breakdown the core technology of Cahokia is that we have three key components:

Education: The education is two-fold in that it can operate to develop K-12 and develop those currently within the workforce.  Technology is the most important role in this component, because it is the distributor of information that is being taught.  But technology also plays a key role in developing solutions for their communities from an Indigenous Perspective.  

Governance: Our governance is structure around Sociocracy which is "a system of governance which seeks to create psychologically safe environments and productive organizations. It is distinguished by the use of consent, rather than majority voting, in discussion and decision-making by people who have a shared objective or work process." This is similar to how most Indigenous communities operate. It also allows organizations to pivot much quicker than than a corporate governance.

Sustainability: The way this space becomes sustainable is by developing relationships with local k-12 schools, Community Colleges, Universities and Tribal College and Universities.  Our goal in the relationship is to introduce industries that fall within Entrepreneurship, Design, Art and Technology.  


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Provide evidence that this technology works. Please cite your sources.

Cahokia plans to utilize technology, such as 3d printing, LiDar Point Cloud, AR, VR, to develop solutions for their communities through workshops and collaboration.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Big Data
  • Biomimicry
  • Blockchain
  • GIS and Geospatial Technology
  • Imaging and Sensor Technology
  • Internet of Things
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science
  • Robotics and Drones
  • Software and Mobile Applications
  • Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
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Does this technology introduce any risks? How are you addressing or mitigating these risks in your solution?

The only risk to the technology would be securing privacy and security concerns. 

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What is your theory of change?

Activities:  Create an Indigenized space that offers skilled training by Indigenous Professionals and Leaders in Entrepreneurship, Art, Design and/or Emerging Technology. All the while implementing education, workshops and training grounded in an Indigenous pedagogy and curriculum. 

Outcome: Indigenous students learn from Indigenous Professionals and Leaders, and become inspired of possibilities for themselves and pass on their knowledge to their communities and provide solutions through technology with an Indigenous Perspective.

Short Term: Create workshops that are beneficial for personal growth.

Long Term: Creating interest to help solve problems within their communities and creating an action plan.  This is where the documenting process and understand that process takes time.

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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Rural
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
  • Persons with Disabilities
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals
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In which state(s) do you currently operate?

  • Arizona
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In which state(s) will you be operating within the next year?

  • Arizona
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

We plan to serve 200 k-12 students and 50 college students, 100-200 professionals within the first year.  Which is roughly around 350-450 for the first year. 

With the next 5 years we hope to serve as many as 2,000 participants and looking expand to a new space. 

We hope that at least 25% of these participants share and pass on what they have learned and sparks innovation within the surrounding Indigenous Communities. 

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and -- importantly -- how will you achieve them?

We plan for our organization to scale and become a model for other Indigenous initiatives to use and expand upon. 

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Most of our measurements will be based on surveys given to participants and facilitators. This will give us a starting point on what students want to learn and how professionals can develop their skills in their current field or discover a new field they may be interested in. 

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What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

Our biggest hurdle is funding for technology to operate the workshops and technology for implementation of learning new skillsets, such as 3d priming, AR, Projection Mapping, etc.

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How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

We plan to create a membership plan to bring in revenue and also seek more grants and fellowships that will back Cahokia.

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

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How many people work on your solution team?

5 Full Time Employees

2-3 Part Time employees

2-3 Volunteers.

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How long have you been working on your solution?

1+ year

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Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Our team's skills and e range from 2-10 years of experience in Design, Art, Emerging Technology, Architecture, Workforce Development, Leadership Training and Educational Strategies. Our differing backgrounds and personalities, with our years of experience in our respective fields, has organically developed into a cohesive team. Our shared experience as Indigenous professionals and leaders experiencing racism, invisibility, and a fractured sense of identity, motivates our group to push past these challenges for the sake of our future generations, so that they may do the same. 

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

Cahokia is grounded in diversity, equity and inclusivity amongst BIPOC, and uniquely, amongst Indigenous Communities and Tribes. As apart of the Governance structure, our plan is implement a Sociocracratic Governance, which “is a system of governance which seeks to create psychologically safe environments and productive organizations. It is distinguished by the use of consent, rather than majority voting, in discussion and decision-making by people who have a shared objective or work process.” The dynamic structure is reflective of an Indigenous mental and spiritual inclination.  We are deeply committed to a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive leadership team.

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Your Business Model & Partnerships

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)
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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

We are applying to solve for the financial help and the opportunity to be apart of an MIT initiative that amplifies the voices of Indigenous problem solvers. 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)
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Please explain in more detail here.

We will need support in these areas as they require a substantial amount of investment in time and money.  The upkeep of technology will be just as important as well. 

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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

Community Developers, Art Initiatives, Design consultancies. This is only a few items for the moment. 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI For Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Solution Team

  • Brian Skeet Indigenous Designer, IndigeDesign Collab
 
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