(Editor’s note: Gabby Murnan interned this summer and split time between the Travois and Tepa offices, both located in Kansas City. Learn more about her here.)
What the heck is a travois? I remember asking my sister this question when she began working here. Except back then I pronounced it like it was a fancy French word with a “Wah” sound on the end.
She explained to me that a travois is two joined poles that act as a sled to carry possessions. It was not until I began working at Travois that I understood the dual meaning behind this word.
Travois’ motto is “you know where you want to go; let us pull some of the weight for you.” The staff here are like the Plains Indians’ travois — they shoulder part of the burden for tribes to make their journey to affordable housing development a little bit smoother.
This summer I had the opportunity to see how this team worked and play a small part in their mission. As an intern I was able to spend time with the different departments and see how they come together to form the travois. I learned the specifics of how Travois utilizes the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program to garner millions of dollars in affordable housing investment on tribal lands. Not only does Travois secure sought after tax credits, they also design homes for families, ensure that projects remain in compliance with federal protocols, and assist tribes in securing tax credits for economic development. Together, the team has helped build 5,214 houses in Indian country, bringing in over $610 million in investor equity.
Prior to interning at Travois, I had worked for a variety of state and federal entities as well as a nonprofit. I was initially hesitant to enter the corporate world. However, Travois changed my perception on what a company can and should be. I experienced what a mission-driven business can accomplish with the right team with the right amount of dedication. Together, Travois and Indian Country are pulling the weight to better communities.