The Times Colonist recently ran a series of articles on the poor state of reserve housing in BC. In my reading, they primarily blamed the development process: that chose lowest-bid developers and then didn’t include any quality inspection or performance measures to ensure the developers completed the contract. They also spoke frequently of the physical wear created by overcrowding, although always implying insufficient housing stock, not an attempt to implement extended-family culture in European-style homes.
One issue handled carefully by the journalists was poor maintenance standards: they did not want to suggest that those people were bad tenants. But most recommendations for improvement included, in the small print, training for tenants in housing maintenance. The argument was made that many of the conditions, including poor maintenance, are widespread in ghettos all over the world (no matter what ethnic group is ghettoized). And I would add that making home ownership illegal probably doesn’t help.
I’m not sure why it’s taboo to say that most natives don’t know how to maintain a Western home? Why would they? Reservation schools were successful at dismantling past cultural practices without being successful at assimilation, which would include house-culture. Even if traditional native culture were intact, what relevance would it have to Western homes?
They traditionally haven’t had the experience of building upkeep, and they didn’t need to. If the building returned to the forest, that was what it was supposed to do.