News and blog

Sep 20, 2021 ·

As I wandered through the books, journals, and graphic novels at the Hayden Labriola Center there was one book that stood out to me, titled “Making Our Place: Exploring Land-use Tensions in Aotearoa New Zealand”. It sounds really exciting, right? Well, I think if you word anything in a western academic tone, everything sounds boring. But if you look at the title through an Indigenous lens it actually reads as “the fight against neo-colonialism... the Māori edition!” Or maybe that's just my perception?…Regardless of how you look at it I felt that this could be an informative read for me.

Making Our Place: Exploring Land-use Tensions in Aotearoa New Zealand

In this book, New Zealanders, both indigenous and non-indigenous, share perspectives and expertise in a series of essays to describe the changes and tensions in New Zealand that have arisen out of the continued development of natural and physical resources. The reader can gain a little insight into what each essay consists of when reading the forward. When I read the words “conclude with a sense of optimism”, I immediately flipped to page 145 to read Linda Te Aho’s essay entitled “Waikato: River to Life”.

In order to understand the issues surrounding the Waikato River, the reader must understand what Te Aho means when she says that “...we see ourselves as not only ‘of the land’ but ‘as the land’”. Te Aho, who is of Waikato-Tainui/Ngāti Kotokī-Kahukura decent and is the Associate Dean Māori for the Division of Arts, Law, Psychology and Social Sciences at Waikato University, gives some insight into the Waikato River, from both a cultural and legal standpoint. She does this by sharing where water originates according to the creation stories that are traditionally shared orally. She explains the origin of the name of her people and the river they consider to be their ancestor: Waikato. She asks the reader to recognize that while the core belief of all Māori is that they are inextricably tied to the land, she wouldn't be able cover the expanse of unique traditions that each tribe of Māori have or the lessons to be learned from these creation stories. 

With the arrival of the French and British colonists, so did changes and conflicts for the Māori. Te Aho tells the story of Karāpiro, a huge rock at the mouth of a stream along the Waikato River. This area is a significant and sacred site for the Ngāti Korokī and Ngāti Hauā. I was fully invested in understanding the history of displacement and battles, trying to keep up with the unfamiliar names of groups and places, and the transfer of guardianship over the lands, my vision suddenly blurred in shock. “Massive landscape change occurred when the rock which had formed the centrepiece of this significant battle was detonated and destroyed in the 1940s in order to create the Karāpiro Hydro-Electric Dam.” The line itself reads like breaking news interrupting a tv program, a harsh reality that is difficult to wrap your head around.

I wasn’t surprised. I knew what I was getting myself into when I chose to read this book, but I dissociated out of shock. At that moment, I felt the dynamite impact the rock of Karāpiro, the same way it did Moadag Do’ag (South Mountain), one of the most sacred mountains to the Akimel O’odham that was partially detonated for the construction of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Loop 202 Extension project in 2016. Painfully, the words cut right through me the same way the U.S./Mexico border wall now cuts through the heart of Tohono O'odham Nation. It is the most mind-numbingly ironic and disheartening position to be in as an Indigenous person: forced to watch the demolition of all that is sacred to your people for sake of “economic progress” and “national security.” After all is said and done we still have to heal ourselves, our communities, and the land.

She concludes the chapter by explaining the ways in which the Māori have won and lost, politically, in their journey of healing the damage done to the Waikato River by the British Crown. I would highly recommend reading her analyses of the settlement of the 2008 Deed of Settlement Act and the ways in which different sections of the act contradict the actualization of co-management of the Waikato River between the Māori and the Crown.  The battles along the Waikato River continue. Te Aho is hopeful for her people and their lands. This was a significant step forward for the Waikato-Tainui and the restoration and protection of their ancestor, the river, for future generations to come.

As I drove home from work on the I-17, one of the digital billboards flashed the announcement from ADOT that read something along the lines of “I-10 construction coming soon.” With a deep sigh, I looked at the road ahead of me, wondering when the United States government would begin listening to the Indigenous communities and take similar steps as New Zealand toward healing the wounds caused by colonialism. While our horizons may be distorted with freeways and cityscapes here in Al’ Son, O’odham and all Indigenous people continue to fight for the protection of the land. Whenever I feel displaced on my own lands I put on the song “This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)”, because just like the Talking Heads, “home is where I want to be,” and as I continue to look up ahead at Moadag, “I guess I'm already there.”


Aug 02, 2021 ·

While school might be out for summer, public libraries have been busy leading summer reading programs across the country.  It has been an exciting summer here at Labriola, in part due to our collaboration with the Venito Garcia Library on the Tohono O’odham Nation. The Venito Garcia Library staff dedicated themselves to creating a virtual summer reading program that could not only get kids reading, but give the kids tangible ways to hold on to this experience that will hopefully benefit  themselves, their family and community, and the land. 

Native-authored books from week one of the program.

Venito Garcia Librarian Althea Salvicio mentioned that the 2021 summer national theme for public libraries was “Tails and Tales.” While she acknowledges that animal books are great, the Venito Garcia Library felt it was of more importance to center Indigenous authors. Althea made the excellent point that “studies have shown that seeing characters in books that look and act like people from one’s own community builds a child’s self-esteem in positive ways.” By sharing Native-authored books, this shows the youth that “Indigenous people like them are publishing stories that come from their own communities—something the kids could do too.” 
Althea also emphasized the importance of having O’odham representation for the youth in our community:”[h]aving adults connect the Native-authored stories we were sharing to O’odham culture was important to us because there are so few children’s books written by O’odham people.There are many similarities among Indigenous people, but it was important to us to show the kids that there are cultural differences that make O’odham people special too,” which is in part why Althea partnered with the ASU Library’s Labriola National American Indian Data Center and the Tohono O'odham Community College Library. 
The Venito Garcia Library knew that Alex Soto (Tohono O’odham), Director of the Labriola Center, was open to collaborate, and their library staff “were excited to hear that Alex had O’odham staff that were willing to give us some of their time.” Lourdes (Hia Ced O’odham) and myself, Elizabeth (Tohono O’odham), were equally as excited to be able to share this time and share stories with children from our community. Labriola works within the university, and a lot of our work is geared towards university students and Indigenous adults, so it was a light in our lives to take this opportunity to interact with kids from our community. 
Labriola participated in three reading sessions for grades 1-5, two of which were coupled with Clifford Pablo and Joyce Miguel with Tohono O’odham Community College Farm Extension and from HOPP (Healthy O’odham Promotion Program). Lourdes and I took on this opportunity to create fun and interactive reading sessions for the youth,
Venito Garcia Facebook post thanking Labriola staff.
playing games such as “O’odham Says” and “iSpy.” In our sessions it was important for us to spotlight Indigenous authored books, however it was also to ensure that the books we were sharing were complementary to the other presenters, interactive for the kids, and connected to O’odham him:dag (O’odham word meaning way of life). 
In addition to being mindful of the stories we were sharing with the kids, there is cultural and traditional protocol that always needs to be considered when working in the library. This allowed us to sort through our Indigenous authored children's books in our Open Stacks collection and protect Indigneous knowledge. For example, there was a Diné book we wanted to share with the kids, however the story is reserved for the winter season. We were able to hold the book and possibly place it in Open Stacks when the season is right. 

Jul 01, 2021 ·

Through our journey of expanding/integrating Indigenous knowledge systems into western educational institutions, and towards raising Indigenous voices, we have enhanced our communications platform to include a new blog format! Through this platform, as well as through our other social media platforms (Instagram and TikTok), our team of Indigenous badasses can share their work, thoughts and passions with new audiences. 

Labriola team after a successful day of scanning at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore!

When I was accepted to work as a Student Aide in the fall of 2020, we were in the height of the pandemic and it was a mystery what I was going to find at Labriola. I was blown away by the amount of time and effort that was put into the community, regardless of the restrictions. Over the course of the last two semesters, Labriola has been able to commit its resources and people to putting on virtual events, such as our “open mic” events at the beginning of the each semester that serve to create a community space where we can share our creativities and feelings, as well as facilitating monthly Community Driven Archives events where the Indigenous community can share stories and our family/community histories. These engagements are only the beginning of what Labriola's student archivists and first Indigneous Assistant Librarian Alex Soto (Tohono O’odham), were able to accomplish for our Indigenous communities, in the matter of a handful of months.


Here at Labriola we are eager to share all the exciting developments we have in store for the 2021-2022 academic year: reestablishing ourselves at the Hayden Library, reissuing the Labriola Newsletter that's been on hold due to the pandemic, and continuing to build relationships and create events with Indigenous communities, both inside and outside of ASU. 

In communicating this work, we are taking a layered approach to our communication channels. For those wanting to take a deeper dive into the projects, partners and engagements we have at Labriola, check out the blog! For more educational and entertaining content from Labriola, be sure to follow us on TikTok. Finally, go to our Instagram page to stay informed on what events we have planned and to get notified when we post on our other platforms. 


This post marks a fresh beginning for the Labriola Center, and we hope you enjoy the journey as much as we do!


-Elizabeth Quiroga

Student Archivist